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Minnesota court overturns conviction of man in Kajouji suicide case

The Minnesota Supreme Court has reversed the conviction of a man accused of encouraging two people to kill themselves, including 19-year-old Carleton student Nadia Kajouji.

William Francis Melchert-Dinkel was convicted of two counts of aiding suicide after posing as a depressed and suicidal young female nurse and responding to posts on suicide websites by Kajouji and a British man, Mark Drybrough.

In both cases, he feigned caring and understanding to win the trust of the victims, while encouraging them to hang themselves.

Kajouji jumped into the Rideau River in March 2008. Her body was found six weeks later.

The court finds the State cannot convict Melchert-Dinkel for encouraging or advising a person to commit suicide, only for assisting, so the case has been sent back to district court.

Nadia Kajouji's brother Marc told CFRA he wasn't sure whether he was more disappointment with the court ruling or the slow progress on national suicide prevention strategies.

He said a conviction in this case isn't the point, and the focus should be turned to charity like yourlifecounts.org, which can actually make a difference.

"Instead of my sister stumbling upon this guy in Minnesota, she might have stumbled upon a charity that was there to help save her life," he said. "I think that's the priority. I'm not a lawyer, I'm not the judge, but it also has no bearing - him being convicted doesn't save any lives."

While Kajouji said great strides had been taken in the past five years to prevent suicide, the legislation is too slow in the making.

"Every life is important, but Nadia's story just happens to be in the news," said Kajouji. "I think we should force our government to take suicide prevention seriously and come up with a national suicide prevention plan."

Melchert-Dinkel had been appealing his 360-day jail sentence in the case. The sentence was put on hold during the appeal process.

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