German 'Angel of Death' commits suicide: prosecutors

25th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

A German doctor on trial for allegedly killing 13 cancer patients has committed suicide, apparently with an overdose of morphine, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

"We have ordered an autopsy," the prosecutor's office in the northern city of Hildesheim said in a statement after an acquaintance found the lifeless body of Mechthild Bach in her bed on Monday. She is believed to have died overnight.

Bach, dubbed the "Angel of Death" in the German press, went on trial on October 2009 accused of 13 counts of manslaughter committed between 2001 and 2003 at a hospital in the northern city of Hanover.

Bach, 61, was accused of stopping the patients' proper drug regimen and injecting them instead with lethal doses of the drugs morphine and Valium -- and without proper consultation.

Prosecutors said the patients, who ranged in age from 52 to 96, were sick but that none was at death's door.

Bach had denied the charges, saying that she had never killed a patient but had aimed to ease their suffering with pain medication.

Prosecutors said Tuesday Bach had written several suicide notes to friends and family citing the trial as the reason she wanted to end her life.

The court had said last week that two of the 13 counts could be elevated to murder, meaning she could have faced life in prison.

The case came to light when an insurance company noted a suspiciously heavy use of morphine in the cancer ward of the hospital where Bach worked.

© 2011 AFP

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