Thursday, December 31, 2015

MP Albrecht condemns U.S. court ruling on teen’s suicide

Waterloo Region Record

Nadia Kajouji embraced
by her father 
KITCHENER — Local MP Harold Albrecht criticized a U.S. court ruling that overturned the conviction of a man charged with encouraging a Brampton teen to take her own life.

William Melchert-Dinkel, a former nurse from Minnesota, was convicted in 2014 of attempting to assist the suicide of 18-year-old Nadia Kajouji, who died after jumping into the Rideau River in Ottawa in 2008.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Monday there wasn't enough evidence to uphold the conviction in the Carleton University student's death.

Kitchener-Conestoga MP Albrecht called the reversal "a further indication of our devaluation of human life" in a news release.

The court affirmed there was sufficient evidence to convict Melchert-Dinkel of assisting the 2005 suicide of a man in Coventry, England. The court ruled he gave the English man detailed instructions on how to hang himself. However, because Melchert-Dinkel didn't give specific instructions to Kajouji, he did not directly assist in the suicide.

"To allow Melchert-Dinkel off on the technicality that Kajouji did not follow his specific instructions to her death is a sad commentary on our commitment to justice and the protection of those among us who are the most vulnerable," said Albrecht, an outspoken advocate for suicide prevention efforts both locally and nationally.

Not long after Kajouji's death, Albrecht tabled a motion dealing with the issue of Internet predators that was adopted by Parliament. He also introduced a bill calling on the federal government to create a national framework for suicide prevention, passed in 2012.

Albrecht said his thoughts were with Kajouji's family.

"While nothing will restore Nadia's life to them, at least there was some solace in the fact that a strong deterrent message had been sent to Melchert-Dinkel and other potential predators."

Albrecht works locally with the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council and its executive director Tana Nash, who also holds that position for the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention now headquartered in Waterloo.

Nash said the latest decision in this case illustrates the shortcomings of the law and the need for clearer guidelines that reflect modern technology.

"As a caring community, we need to protect those that are vulnerable from predators who seek out potential victims online," Nash said in the release. , Twitter: @WeidnerRecord