Saskatchewan farmer Robert Latimer stands by his decision to end the life of his severely disabled daughter almost 20 years ago, in his first interview since being released on full parole in December.
In an exclusive interview with Radio-Canada (the CBC's French service), Latimer is unrepentant about killing his daughter Tracy in 1993. He also speaks frankly about his deep anger towards Canada's justice system, and its failings.
"I know I was right," Latimer, 57, declares to journalist Anne-Marie Dussault, in the 40-minute interview.
Tracy, 12, had severe cerebral palsy, and suffered chronic pain from repeated surgeries. She couldn't walk, talk, or feed herself.
The decision to end her suffering was hard "but it was not sad," said Latimer, who has always insisted his "mercy killing" asphyxiation was motivated by his love and compassion for Tracy. (Both are pictured in an undated photo.)
"She'd had enough. That was it. We were done."
Latimer's act unleashed a stormy debate over the rights of the disabled and the ethics of euthanasia and mercy killing. It also tested Canada's judicial system like no other case before.
In 1994, he was convicted of second-degree murder, but the jury described his crime as a "mercy killing" and recommended a one-year sentence.
The judge at Latimer's trial, in an attempt to distinguish "compassionate homicide" from murder, granted him a constitutional exemption from any mandatory sentence. After several appeals, the exemption was thrown out, and Latimer was sentenced to 10 years in jail.
Religious groups and disabled rights activists supported his conviction, saying it upheld laws protecting minorites and disabled people.
But the soft-spoken farmer sees his case differently, and harbours deep anger towards the Canadian justice system, and against those who dare judge him.
"They're just a bunch of arrogant, self-righteous, religious-backed people. They don't care about Tracy," he said. "They're just a bunch of sadistic butchers, really. They have to come clean on that. What is the legal alternative that we were supposed to take by law?"
Judges and juries should have the right to recognize compassionate killing, Latimer believes.
"They have to have a judicial process to establish right from wrong. It's designed to do that, it did not do that in our situation."
"If it's the right thing, why shouldn't it be condoned? That's the very purpose of a jury trial."
Latimer said he feels branded, and often dreams of a new trial by jury, convinced that another judicial review of his case would perhaps produce a different verdict, and clear his name.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
CBC in Canada:
Posted by BA Haller at 2:57 PM