Eerie find: Urns filled with human ashes

2010-04-29 08:19

Swiss authorities are investigating a macabre discovery. Dozens of

urns filled with human ashes stuck in the mud beneath Lake Zurich.

The surprise find – by divers searching for their boat’s lost

sunroof – is drawing attention to some uncomfortable aspects of assisted

suicide, a practice permitted in Switzerland but which is coming under

increasing public scrutiny.

Zurich police won’t say if they have evidence directly connecting

the rust-coloured urns to Dignitas, a Swiss group that has helped hundreds of

people – including Americans, Britons, Germans and Frenchmen – take their lives

in recent years.

“That would be pure speculation,” said Wolfgang Bollack,

spokesperson for Zurich’s environmental department.

But The Atlantic, a magazine in the US, just

reported eerily similar burials conducted by Dignitas founder Ludwig Minelli. In

a profile of him last month, the magazine said that Minelli stored the urns

until he had enough to fill up his car then dumped them at night into Lake

Zurich from a “quiet spot nestled among the multimillion-dollar houses”.

Soraya Wernli, a former Dignitas employee, recounted a similar

story in 2008 from her time with the organisation. She described dumping urns

into the lake as a common practice and said hundreds were under the water.

Minelli said “they would dissolve in the water, that they were urns

made of tons of clay,” Wernli recently told television channel TeleZueri.

Attempts to reach Minelli and Wernli were unsuccessful and Dignitas

declined to answer questions from AP.

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