Pro-euthanasia former Dutch minister found dead in garage

A picture taken on March 3, 1999, shows late Dutch former health minister Els Borst looking on in The Hague. Borst died on Feb 10, 2014, aged 81. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
A picture taken on March 3, 1999, shows late Dutch former health minister Els Borst looking on in The Hague. Borst died on Feb 10, 2014, aged 81. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

THE HAGUE (AFP) - Former Dutch health minister Els Borst, instrumental in introducing the world's first euthanasia law in the Netherlands in 2002, has been found dead at her home, her political party said Tuesday. She was 81.

"Els Borst is dead," the Dutch left-central party D66 announced on its website, with party leader Alexander Pechtold tweeting: "I am immensely sad."

Borst's lifeless body was discovered by a friend on Monday evening in the garage of her Dutch home in the central village of Bilthoven, various Dutch newspapers said.

The circumstances around her death are unknown, but Borst attended a party meeting over the weekend, where she was last seen in public.

Known for her progressive and liberal attitude towards medicine, Borst, who was a physician, was the Dutch health minister from 1994-2002.

The Netherlands scored a world first under her tenure when it adopted the first euthanasia law in 2001 and which came into force in April 2002.

Euthanasia under close medical supervision is increasingly popular as a way to end life the Netherlands and nearly 4,000 people undertook the practice in 2012.

"We've lost a euthanasia ambassador," said Petra de Jong, president of the Dutch Society for a Voluntary Life's End (NVVE).

"She was a leading figure," said De Jong.

Numerous Dutch politicians also paid tribute to Borst on Tuesday including Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.