Ex-nurse accused of encouraging Nadia Kajouji's suicide has conviction overturned
The family of an Ottawa student is reeling over a court decision in the United States. 18-year-old Carleton University student Nadia Kajouji died by suicide in 2008. An American man, a former nurse named William-Melchert Dinkel, was convicted of counselling her to do it. Today, his conviction was thrown out of court.
Nadia Kajouji was a beautiful but troubled young woman who suffered from depression and Melchert- Dinkel preyed on that. The Supreme Court in Minnesota said what he did was deplorable but not criminal.
Kajouji had been blogging about her thoughts of suicide. Minnesota resident William Melchert-Dinkel replied, posing on-line as a female nurse encouraging her and others to kill themselves. He did it, he said, for “the thrill of the chase.”
In March of 2008, Kajouji jumped into the Rideau River. Her body was found 6 weeks later.
A Minnesota court convicted Melchert-Dinkel of aiding suicide in two cases, including Kajouji's. At the time, Nadia's mother said she was grateful to the American court system.
“When Canada and Great Britain refused to take action,” said Deborah Kajouji outside a court in Minnesota in May of 2011, “people here stood up and said there's right and wrong, and this is wrong and we're going to take it to justice.”
Today, the Supreme Court in Minnesota overturned the conviction.
"There is no dispute as to either the depravity of Melchert-Dinkel's conduct or the fact that he lied to his victims", reads the Supreme Court ruling.
But the court said that the state’s assisted-suicide law wasn’t constitutional as it pertained to "encouraging or advising" someone to kill themselves. It was constitutional, though, with respect to someone “assisting a suicide.”
“It’s disappointing, obviously,” said Marc Kajouji, Nadia’s brother who lives in Toronto.
Kajouji says jail time wouldn't have brought his sister back. His only hope now is saving other lives through an organization called "Your Life Counts." (http://www.yourlifecounts.org)
"It doesn't have any positive or negative on my life,” says Kajouji with respect to today’s conviction being overturned, “Knowing I saved a Canadians life through “Your Life Counts.org? That's what's going to make me happy, not a punishment for a terrible act.”
The Supreme Court said a lower court never dealt with the issue of whether Melchert-Dinkel “assisted” in the suicides. The case has now been sent back to the lower court for further proceedings.
Melchert-Dinkel was to serve 360 days in jail but that was put on hold pending the outcome of this appeal.
He remains on the street.