Published: Wed, October 31, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

German nurse admits killing 100 patients in his care

German nurse admits killing 100 patients in his care

A former nurse on trial for mass murder in northern Germany has admitted to killing 100 patients.

The murder charges against Niels Hoegel, 41, stem from his time at a hospital in the northwestern city of Oldenburg between 1999 and 2002 and at another hospital in nearby Delmenhorst from 2003 to 2005.

Investigators say the final toll could top 200 but fear they might never know for sure because the bodies of many possible victims were cremated.

"We will do our utmost to learn the truth", he said.

The Oldenburg state court is conducting the trial at a courtroom set up in a conference centre, a venue chosen to accommodate a large number of co-defendants as well as public interest in the proceedings.

In Britain, Dr Harold Shipman was believed to have killed as many as 250 people, majority elderly and middle-aged women who were his patients.

He had already been sentenced to 15 years in jail in 2015 after he was found guilty of killing two patients with lethal injections.

As his trial got underway Tuesday, Hoegel admitted that the accusations were largely correct.

The trial is scheduled to run into May.

Relatives of his alleged victims were expected to pack the court but journalists in the room noted many empty seats in reserved rows.

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Hoegel was caught red-handed injecting unauthorized drugs into a patient in 2005 but no one at the hospital intervened.

They believe he was motivated by vanity, wanting to show off his skills and that he also acted out of "boredom".

Before taking the stand on Tuesday, Hoegel had only acknowledged around 30 murders, all of them committed in Delmenhorst.

Killing in itself was never his aim, according to one psychologist who evaluated him.

Each time, the nurse followed a similar procedure; he would inject his patient with a medication triggering a cardiac arrest, which would follow an attempted resuscitation.

When he managed to revive a patient, he was sated, but only for a few days, the expert said, before adding: "For him, it was like a drug".

Those convictions led authorities to investigate hundreds of deaths and exhume bodies of former patients in the clinics where he worked. Known as Dr Death, Shipman was sentenced to 15 life terms in 2000; he died prison in 2004, apparently a suicide.

Police said fellow nurses and doctors should have brought Hoegel's actions to light sooner.

Authorities are pursuing criminal cases against former staff at the two medical facilities.

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