Suicide 'factory' reopens - next to a brothelMichael Leidig in Zurich The Observer, Sunday March 16 2008 Article
This article appeared in the Observer on Sunday March 16 2008 on p45 of the World news section.
The Swiss assisted suicide group Dignitas, which was evicted from its flat in Zurich after complaints about bodies in the lift, has opened what neighbours have labelled a 'death
factory' on a business park next to the country's biggest brothel.
The new property on the Gewerbezentrums Ifang business park, in the village of Schwerzenbach, near Zurich, includes a private cargo lift - for coffins.
Since it opened earlier this year, 23 clients have walked in the front door and been carried
out at the back in a box.
In Switzerland it is legal to help people wanting to commit suicide, but only Dignitas welcomes clients from other countries such as Britain.
Dignitas had launched a mobile service after being forced to leave its Zurich flat. It admitted last November that it had dispatched four people - including two in public car parks in Swiss beauty spots.
The country's law insists that agencies that help arrange assisted deaths do it for 'honourable reasons' and do not profit from death, apart from charging basic fees. Dignitas claims that the cost of organising suicides is £5,000.
Karl Rütsche, a spokesman for Schwerzenbach council, said it was not happy when it heard Dignitas had settled in its community but was powerless to act. 'Of course, as a council we tried to stop them moving here and we fought the
Dignitas decision tooth and nail. We didn't want the country's biggest sex club and largest death factory side-by-side on our doorstep.' He added: 'Having lost the battle to keep them away at least we can say that - on a positive note -
everyone now knows where Schwerzenbach is. And as far as I know there have never been any complaints from any of the people living here, never mind a petition or protest action. Now they have settled in, I have to admit Dignitas seems to be a very professional company.
'As a resident, you don't really notice what is happening. We estimate about 200 people a year will kill themselves there, but we won't notice anything if we don't have to register the deaths. We don't have any hotels. I gather that isn't a
problem because Dignitas's customers usually arrive on the day and go straight to the company's offices.
'The only problem ever is that Dignitas doesn't advertise its presence - and a lot of people get lost and have to ask for directions. But there are 300 customers a day going to the brothel, so there is always someone around to ask.'
Using a host of criteria (including sanitation, education, economic environment and recreation), Mercer Human Resources Consulting has released the results of their annual World-Wide Quality of Living Survey. Zurich placed first overall with
Geneva, Vancouver and Vienna close behind. The worst major cities to live in (to no one's surprise): Baghdad; Brazzaville, Congo; Bangui, Central African Republic and Khartoum, Sudan. (Mercer)
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