German nurse 'motivated by vanity' admits killing 100 patients
Niels Hoegel was accused of intentionally administering medical overdoses to victims so he could bring them back to life at the last moment and appear heroic.
As the proceedings opened in the northern city of Oldenburg, presiding judge Sebastian Buehrmann asked whether the charges against him were accurate, to which Hoegel replied “yes”.
“What I have admitted took place,” he told the courtroom, which was full of grieving relatives of victims.
Hoegel appears to have followed a similar procedure each time, first injecting a medication that triggered cardiac arrest, and then stepping in to resuscitate them.
Prosecutors say he was motivated by vanity, to show off his skills at saving human lives, and by simple “boredom”.
The choice of victim appears to have been entirely random, with their ages ranging from 34 to 96.
Killing in itself was never his aim, according to one psychologist who evaluated him.
When he managed to revive a patient, he was satisfied, but only for a few days, the expert said, adding: “For him, it was like a drug.”
It is the biggest serial killing case in Germany’s post-war history.
Hoegel, 41, has already spent nearly 10 years in prison as he serves a life term for other patient deaths.
The judge said the main aim of the trial was to establish the full scope of the murder spree that was allowed to go unchecked for years at two German hospitals.
“We will do our utmost to learn the truth,” he said. “It is like a house with dark rooms – we want to bring light into the darkness.”
A minute of silence was held in court for the victims, as Hoegel listened with his head lowered.
Public prosecutor Daniela Schiereck-Bohlmann read out the name of each dead patient and the charges against the defendant.
Prosecutors say at least 36 patients were killed at a hospital in Oldenburg where he worked, and about 64 more at a clinic in nearby Delmenhorst, between 2000 and 2005.
More than 130 bodies of patients who died on Hoegel’s watch have been exhumed.
In 2005 Hoegel was caught injecting an unprescribed drug into a patient in Delmenhorst.
He was sentenced in 2008 to seven years in prison for attempted murder.
A second trial followed in 2014-15 under pressure from alleged victims’ families, who accused prosecutors of dragging their feet.
He was found guilty of murder and attempted murder of five other victims and given the maximum sentence of 15 years.
It was then that Hoegel confessed to his psychiatrist at least 30 more murders were committed in Delmenhorst, prompting investigators look at suspicious deaths in Oldenburg.
Investigators say the final toll could top 200 but fear they might never know for sure because the bodies of many potential victims were cremated.
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