‘Up to 300’ urns dumped in lake close to Dignitas

The controversial suicide clinic Dignitas is facing fresh scrutiny after dozens of urns containing human remains were found dumped in a nearby lake.

One estimate has suggested that there could be more than 300 of the urns on the bed of Lake Zurich.

The sickening discovery was made by police divers, and police spokesman Stefan Oberlin pointed the finger at the controversial facility, saying: “We believe they came from the Zürich Oberland as it says on the urns – which is where Dignitas is based.


“The urns were not labelled. We don’t know the identity of anyone in the urns.”

Each of the urns bears the logo of the Nordheim crematorium which is used by the suicide facility.

The discovery has prompted disgust among local officials.


Max Baumgartner, mayor of Zurich, said: “I am furious. In particular the large number of urns left me really shocked. It looks like they have been systematically dumping them here.”

And Nicolas Mori, a spokesman for the Zurich church, said: “If burials on the water are conducted on a commercial basis and any promised ceremony is not carried out – that is just completely unacceptable.

“It is like getting rid of the rubbish, just getting it out of sight and out of mind, and we condemn it totally.”


Former Dignitas employee Soraya Wernli has estimated that there are at least 300 urns at the bottom of Lake Zurich.

She said: “Around one in three urns end up in Lake Zurich. At first Minelli put the urns there himself but later asked his daughter and another member of staff to do it.”

Dignitas founder Ludwig Minelli has refused to comment on the grim discovery.


Under Swiss Law Mr Minelli could face up to three years in jail and a £3,000 fine for performing the unauthorised burials.

A spokesman for the Swiss Environment Agency has confirmed that the urns are now being kept “in a place respecting their dignity”.

Earlier this month it was revealed that police officers are investigating the case of a woman who did not have a terminal illness but committed suicide at the Dignitas clinic.


The son of Kathleen Dobson said he was not told she was about to commit suicide, and if he had known he would have intervened.

Mrs Dobson, who lived in Guernsey, suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, which left her depressed and in pain, but friends said she had a decent standard of living.

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