Right-to-die activist Sean Davison was charged on Friday with premeditated murder – a charge that could see him serving a life sentence should he be found guilty – in addition to an existing charge of murder.
The Cape Town Magistrate’s Court heard that Davison, 57, allegedly unlawfully and intentionally killed Justin Varian by placing a bag over his head and administering helium. Varian, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease about six years ago, died in July 2015 in Fresnaye.
Varian had approached Davison’s organisation, Dignity SA, and asked them to help him die, according to Dignity SA.
Davison was arrested and released on R20,000 bail in September in connection with the death of a 43-year-old doctor friend, Anrich Burger, in 2013. He had been left a quadriplegic after an accident.
The UWC professor and pro-euthanasia lobbyist became an activist for the right to assisted suicide after he was arrested in New Zealand in 2010 for helping his elderly mother die. She had terminal cancer.
The charges saw him losing his freedom of movement, among other restrictions.
One of his strict bail conditions bars him from leaving the Western Cape without police consent. Not only will he have to report his local police station in Pinelands, but he is also prohibited from coming close to international ports of entry such as airports and harbours.
The professor of biotechnology has indicated previously that he has no intention of evading the trial and had not only cooperated with the police, but also handed his South African and New Zealand passports over to them.
The matter has been postponed to January 29 2019.