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About 400 cases of euthanasia were reported in Belgium last year, up from 200 cases four years ago, according to new figures.

Some one third of assisted suicides are the result of a surgical procedure. In some cases, medical treatment is stopped or not started at all, said Wim Distelmans, chairman of Belgium’s euthanasia evaluation committee.

80% of the mercy killings were performed in the northern region of Flanders, where there is a network of specialised doctors, Distelmans was quoted as saying.

Belgium legalised euthanasia in 2002, becoming the second European country after the Netherlands to do so.

The bill defines euthanasia as an act practised by a third party
intentionally ending the life of a person at his or her request.

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