Europe

France outrage at video in Vincent Lambert right to die case

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Media captionIn the video, Vincent Lambert's mother addresses him over a mobile phone and his brother is seen visiting him in hospital

Campaigners fighting a decision to take a paralysed man off life support have sparked controversy in France by releasing a video of him in hospital.

They say it shows Vincent Lambert reacting to family members after a court ruled that his care could end.

Doctors have condemned the footage, saying it does not contradict his diagnosis. Mr Lambert, 39, has been in a vegetative state for seven years.

His family have been split over whether he should be kept alive.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on Friday that the decision to stop intravenously feeding Mr Lambert did not violate European rights laws.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Viviane Lambert wants her son to receive more treatment

The case has sparked fierce debate in France where euthanasia is illegal, although doctors can withdraw care under a 2005 passive euthanasia law.

'Powerful interaction'

In the latest controversy, a moving video entitled "Vincent Lambert is not at the end of his life" was published on YouTube and a conservative Catholic website.

Mr Lambert is seen moving his eyes and mouth as his mother speaks to him on a mobile phone, telling him she loves him, hours after the ECHR's judgement.

The video's author, Emmanuel Guepin, a member of a self-titled support committee, says it also shows "powerful" interaction between Mr Lambert and his brother.

Mr Guepin says the footage demonstrates that "the decisions made in the courts" do not correspond with Mr Lambert's true condition.

'Attempt to manipulate'

However Mr Lambert's former doctor, Prof Eric Kariger, denounced the video as disrespectful to the patient as well as to his wife and other family members.

Speaking to France's Europe1, he said it represented an attempt to manipulate people who did not fully understand the patient's diagnosis.

Although it appeared that Mr Lambert was reacting to his environment, this was not the case and the patient was in a vegetative state with no hope of recovery, Prof Kariger explained.

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Image caption Vincent Lambert's wife, Rachel, passed campaigners supporting his mother as she left the ECHR on Friday

Mr Lambert has been kept alive with the use of intravenous food and water at a hospital in Reims in north-eastern France after a motorcycle accident left him tetraplegic.

His wife Rachel and some of his brothers and sisters agree with the medical recommendation that his life should be ended.

The doctors said Mr Lambert had shown signs last year of resisting treatment, and Rachel Lambert said her husband would "never have wanted to be kept in this state".

But Mr Lambert's parents - who are said to be devout Roman Catholics - and other siblings say he has shown signs of progress and believe he just needs better care.

Bernard Devalois, the head of a palliative care unit near Paris, described the video released on Tuesday as "obscene", saying it did not show anything different to what doctors had already observed.

Speaking to BFMTV, he said Mr Lambert had not been reacting to the sight or sound of his family, and "if you read him the telephone directory, you would get the same pictures".

Mr Lambert's mother and her supporters have vowed to fight on, although the ECHR's decision cannot be appealed against.

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