NEWS

Net-aided suicide probed

In the first investigation of its kind in Greece, police are questioning an army sergeant in Crete who allegedly assisted an Athenian teenager to commit suicide by providing him with the relevant details on an Internet chat room, officers said yesterday. The 18-year-old victim, who has not been named, was found dead in front of his computer in his home in Ambelokipi on September 10 of last year. An autopsy showed that he had died after drinking some agricultural pesticide, a container of which was found in his home. Officers examined the youth’s computer and found that he had exchanged ideas about suicide with other Internet users in a chat room. The teenager was contemplating taking his own life because he was heartbroken after breaking up with his girlfriend, police said. A message, from someone using a female name, was found on the computer, advising which pesticide to use and where it could be bought in Athens. Officers traced the message to an Internet cafe in Hania and and a police task force traveled to Crete 15 days ago to track down the suspect. During questioning, the 25-year-old local man, who is serving a five-year term in the army as a sergeant, admitted that he had been in contact with the teenager. He told officers that he did not think the youth had been serious about committing suicide when he passed on the information about the pesticide. The suspect was not arrested and has yet to be charged but police have submitted the case file to an Athens prosecutor. Attica Police Chief Stefanos Skotis said he believed it to be the first case of its kind in Greece. Under the law, assisting or encouraging someone to commit suicide is treated as a misdemeanor, and carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.