Male nurse confesses to poisoning 29 patients
7 February 2006, KEMPTEN, GERMANY - A male nurse who is accused of poisoning 29 hospital patients in Germany's worst case ever of serial killing told a court Tuesday he was sorry, saying, "I am guilty."
7 February 2006
KEMPTEN, GERMANY - A male nurse who is accused of poisoning 29 hospital patients in Germany's worst case ever of serial killing told a court Tuesday he was sorry, saying, "I am guilty."
At the start of his trial, the 27-year-old man said he had lost count of how many sick people he had injected with a lethal mixture of drugs at a hospital in the foothills of the Alps, and was not sure if he had really killed all those named in the indictment.
Hospital officials at first noticed nothing unusual about the frequent deaths after the nurse was hired in January 2003.
It took 17 months to discover who was removing drugs from the medicine cabinet and what he was doing with them.
Admitting the killings Tuesday, he begged relatives of the dead to forgive him for "unjustifiably" bringing their lives to "an artificial end shortly before they would have died anyway."
"I wanted to prevent suffering and free them from a no-exit state," he said, denying he had had any selfish motive.
The mostly elderly patients were seriously ill at the main hospital in Sonthofen, near the Austrian border.
He was indicted for 16 murders, 12 manslaughters and one case of assisting suicide.
Prosecutors told the packed court in the south-western town of Kempten that the defendant had taken advantage of patients who had no idea they were being given lethal injections, choosing his victims at will.
In some cases, he had killed patients who were in the care of other nurses and who he was not supposed to be looking after.
He faces additional charges of assault and theft in connection with his removal of the drugs from hospital storerooms.
His arrest shocked Germany, where the police had never before interrupted someone in the midst of such a long series of surreptitious killings.
Nurses have attempted the excuse of "relieving pain" at other similar trials. Elsewhere in Germany, a woman nurse, also aged 27, is currently on trial for nine deaths of elderly patients in her care. A male nurse was convicted in 1993 of killing 10 patients.
The Kempten trial, which follows exhumations of most of the dead, is expected to involve 22 days of hearings with a verdict due in May.
Defence lawyer Juergen Fischer attacked the indictment Tuesday, saying it falsely imputed that the man hated his patients. Fischer said the defence would argue that the homicides were not serious enough to be punished as murder.
The man said had been "hasty" in admitting all the killings, and believed he might not be to blame for the whole 29 listed.
He had not been conscious of doing wrong till after his arrest, he added.
"I knew I was in breach of the law, but I felt it was right," he said in his statement.
The 26-year-old grand-daughter of one of the victims said outside that she found his statement to the court incredible.
"It's an absolute mockery," she said.
Subject: German news