Nurse jailed for life for five hospital murders

29th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

29 June 2007, Berlin (dpa) - A 55-year-old nurse was sentenced to life imprisonment Friday for murdering five of her heart patients at Germany's biggest university hospital in Berlin. Irene Becker had admitted deliberately killing four of her patients using a medication that lowers blood pressure, but she had rejected blame for the other death. She claimed acting "for the good of the patients" and her lawyers argued in court that the crime was merely manslaughter. Her victims were aged between 48 and 77. "

29 June 2007

Berlin (dpa) - A 55-year-old nurse was sentenced to life imprisonment Friday for murdering five of her heart patients at Germany's biggest university hospital in Berlin.

Irene Becker had admitted deliberately killing four of her patients using a medication that lowers blood pressure, but she had rejected blame for the other death.

She claimed acting "for the good of the patients" and her lawyers argued in court that the crime was merely manslaughter. Her victims were aged between 48 and 77.

"The defendant played mistress over life and death," said presiding judge Peter Faust, as Becker stood ramrod straight to hear sentence, her face immovable.

"This was not euthanasia," said Faust. None of the patients had wanted to die.

Faust criticized the whole intensive-care staff at the hospital for not exposing her sooner and called for them to be sacked. The attacks began in late 2005 and continued till October 2006 when she was arrested.

The judge said fellow staff all knew that she handled Charite patients roughly and verbally abused them, "which was not just a disgrace, but a form of criminal assault." He called for her superiors to be prosecuted.

Staff began wondering last year if Becker's patients were dying of natural causes, but did not expose her until more deaths had followed, the court was told.

Tens of thousands of German doctors have trained at the high-rise Charite Hospital in Berlin. In communist days it was one of the most prestigious clinics in the Soviet Bloc and was patronized by communist heads of state.

Both sides said they would appeal. Prosecutors had charged her with a sixth murder and a murder attempt in a seventh case and alleged that she drugged an eighth man who ultimately died of natural causes.

Medication to reduce blood pressure takes the strain off blood vessels and cause the heart to beat more slowly. Overdoses of such drugs can lead to the heart ceasing to beat altogether.

In November last year, a court handed a life term to male nurse Stephan Letter, 28, Germany's worst serial killer since World War II, for killing 28 of his patients at a hospital in Sonthofen in the south of Germany.

DPA

Subject: German news

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