Tutu sup­ports eu­thana­sia man

Cleric backs UWC sci­en­tist’s bail bid

Cape Argus - - NEWS - ES­THER LEWIS and JA­SON WARNER es­ther.lewis@inl.co.za ja­son.warner@inl.co.za

CAPE Town sci­en­tist Pro­fes­sor Sean Dav­i­son, who faces a charge of at­tempted murder in New Zealand, is re­port­edly set to re­turn to South Africa as the Dunedin High Court has ad­justed his bail con­di­tions.

This comes af­ter an ap­peal by the Uni­ver­sity of the Western Cape, backed by Arch­bishop Emer­i­tus Des­mond Tutu.

Dav­i­son, 49, was ar­rested in New Zealand in Septem­ber af­ter he con­fessed to giv­ing his 85-year-old mother a fa­tal dose of mor­phine, at her request.

Tutu’s spokesman, Dan Vaughan, said the arch­bishop had faith in Dav­i­son.

Asked about Tutu’s in­ter­ven­tion, Vaughan said: “The only in­ter­ven­tion is that he put on record the trust he has in Sean (and) that he will re­turn to stand trial when needed.”

Vaughan said Tutu’s sup­port was not to be con­fused with a stand on eu­thana­sia.

Dav­i­son is the head of the foren­sics lab­o­ra­tory in UWC’s biotech­nol­ogy depart­ment.

UWC vice-chan­cel­lor and rec­tor Brian O’Con­nell wrote a let­ter of ap­peal, which got the stamp of ap­proval from Tutu, to the High Court plead­ing for Dav­i­son to be al­lowed to re­turn to South Africa.

The uni­ver­sity’s ap­peal was based on the “wel­fare of the stu­dents, our com­mit­ment to the donors, our con­cern about the project of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion through DNA ev­i­dence, as well as the devel­op­ment of our nation’s com­pe­tence in sci­ence and technology”.

In the let­ter, O’Con­nell de­scribes Dav­i­son as an im­por­tant per­son in the field of biotech­nol­ogy.

Ac­cord­ing to the New Zealand news­pa­per the Otago Daily Times, the uni­ver­sity ex­pected the pro­fes­sor to re­turn to work early next year.

Dav­i­son leads the Foren­sic DNA Project, with a fo­cus on iden­ti­fy­ing peo­ple in hu­man rights cases in South Africa and sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa.

O’Con­nell said the project had stalled in his ab­sence.

The rec­tor vouched for Dav­i­son’s char­ac­ter, say­ing that “his stew­ard­ship at UWC has been ex­em­plary”.

“I have com­plete con­fi­dence that he will hon­our his bail con­di­tions and re­turn to New Zealand when re­quested,” he said.

UWC would make it a con­di­tion of his con­tin­ued em­ploy­ment that he re­turn for court ap­pear­ances.

Dav­i­son de­tailed the 2006 eu­thana­sia in an unedited ver­sion of his book Be­fore We Say Good­bye. His mother, Pa­tri­cia Fer­gu­son, a doc­tor, was di­ag­nosed with can­cer. She had tried to starve her­self be­fore turn­ing to her son for help.

Dav­i­son de­scribed in an un­pub­lished sec­tion of the book how he crushed mor­phine pills into a drink, and told his mother it would end her life.

He said she had thanked him and told him he was “a won­der­ful son”.

Al­though the con­fes­sion was left out of the book, it was later leaked to the New Zealand press, lead­ing to Dav­i­son be­ing ar­rested dur­ing a fam­ily visit to Christchurch.

Ef­forts were made with­out suc­cess to con­tact Dav­i­son’s at­tor­ney, Len An­der­son, in New Zealand to find out when Dav­i­son would re­turn.

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