Former Dutch PM dies 'hand-in-hand' with wife in rare double euthanasia

Former Dutch Prime Minister Dries van Agt. Credit: The Rights Forum

Former Dutch prime minister Dries van Agt and his wife have died "hand-in-hand" together in a rare double euthanasia.

The couple were both 93 and were buried together on Thursday.

The news was made public by the human rights organisation Dries van Agt founded - The Rights Forum - which announced the pair would be buried in a private ceremony in the eastern city of Nijmegen.

“He died hand in hand with his beloved wife Eugenie van Agt-Krekelberg, the support and anchor with whom he was together for more than 70 years and whom he always continued to refer to as ‘my girl,’” the organisation said in a statement.

Van Agt suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2019 while giving a speech at a commemoration event for Palestinians and never fully recovered.

Dries van Agt, had served as a Christian Democrat prime minister for the Netherlands from 1977 until 1982.

He became increasingly progressive after he departed politics, ultimately leaving his party in 2017 over ideological differences with the centre-right Christian Democratic Appeal's approach to Israel and the Palestinians.

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Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who referred to Van Agt as his “great-great-grandfather in office,” spoke highly of the former politician.

“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.

Van Agt was known for his archaic references and grandiose language, as well as his passion for cycling. He was forced to quit that hobby in 2019 after a fall.

Together with the right-wing Liberal Party, the Christian Democrat Appeal governed the Netherlands with Van Agt as prime minister from 1977 until 1981. After elections, he again became prime minister, forming a coalition with the Labour Party and the centrist Democrats 66 in a government that held for a year.

Following a visit to Israel in 1999, he became increasingly vocal about his support for the Palestinian people. He referred to his experience of the trip as a “conversion.”

In 2009, he founded The Rights Forum, which advocates for a “just and sustainable Dutch and European policy regarding the Palestine/Israel issue,” according to the non-profit organisation.

He is survived by his three children.

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