Former Dutch Prime Minister Dries van Agt has died by legal euthanasia, “hand in hand” with his wife Eugenie.
The couple, who were both 93, died Monday in his hometown of Nijmegen, The Rights Forum, a human rights organization Agt founded, announced Friday.
“He died together and hand in hand with his beloved wife Eugenie van Agt-Krekelberg, the support and support with whom he was together for more than seventy years, and whom he always continued to refer to as ‘my girl,’” the nonprofit said in a statement.
Both Agt and his wife had been suffering from deteriorating health for some time before they chose to die.
The former prime minister in 2019 suffered a brain hemorrhage while giving a speech at a commemoration event for Palestinians, a cause to which he dedicated the later decades of his life. He never fully recovered.
Van Agt and his wife were very ill, but “couldn’t live without each other,” the nonprofit’s director Gerad Jonkman told broadcaster NOS about the choice for euthanasia.
Duo euthanasia, or two people receiving a fatal injection simultaneously, is still relatively rare in the Netherlands but is slowly gaining more popularity, the outlet reported.
Twenty-nine couples opted for the paired death in 2022, up from 16 who chose it in 2021 and the 13 pairs the year before.
Van Agt served in several political capacities throughout his long career, notably as the Netherlands’ prime minister from 1977 until 1982.
Following a visit to Israel in 1999, the Christian Democrat became increasingly vocal about his support for the Palestinian people.
In 2009, he founded The Rights Forum, which advocates for a “just and sustainable Dutch and European policy regarding the Palestine/Israel issue.”
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who referred to van Agt as his “great-great-grandfather in office,” remembered his predecessor as an authentic leader.
“With his flowery and unique language, his clear convictions and his striking presentation, Dries van Agt gave color and substance to Dutch politics in a time of polarization and party renewal,” Rutte said in a statement.
The Dutch royal family also praised him: “He took administrative responsibility in a turbulent time and managed to inspire many with his striking personality and colorful style,” King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima and Princess Beatrix said in a joint statement.
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