WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) _ Police charged a 79-year-old Manitoba man Wednesday with helping his ailing wife commit suicide.

Investigators handed Bert Doerksen a summons to appear in court on a charge of counseling or aiding suicide, but did not take him into custody. He is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 12.

Defense lawyer Martin Glazer said he was thankful police were showing sensitivity in their treatment of his client, who he said is under enormous stress.

``We feel it's in the public interest to lay a charge,'' said Police Supt. Menno Zacharais. ``In a situation where death results from the actions of anyone and those actions are illegal by law, it's in our best interest to put this case forward.''

The body of Susan Doerksen, 78, was found in a car parked in the garage of the couple's home on Nov. 26, 1997.

A large hose attached to the car's exhaust pipe ran through a car window, which was sealed off with cardboard and duct tape.

Mrs. Doerksen suffered from a number of medical problems, including a severe form of arthritis, and had recently had a heart attack.

The maximum sentence for assisted suicide is 14 years. There is no minimum sentence.