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CRIME

Nurse suspected of 90 murders in ‘Germany’s worst post-war killing spree’

A German male nurse jailed for life two years ago for killing two patients with lethal drug overdoses murdered at least 90 patients in total, police said on Monday, calling it post-war Germany's worst killing spree.

Nurse suspected of 90 murders in 'Germany's worst post-war killing spree'
Photo: DPA

Niels Hoegel, 40, was jailed in February 2015 for two murders and several attempted murders of intensive-care patients at the Delmenhorst hospital near the northern city of Bremen.

Police said on Monday that investigators exhuming and analyzing more bodies had since found evidence of scores of additional murders.

The death toll “is unique in the history of the German republic,” said chief police investigator Arne Schmidt, adding that Hoegel killed randomly and preyed especially on those in critical condition.

There was “evidence for at least 90 murders, and at least as many (suspected) cases again that can no longer be proven,” he told a press conference, declaring himself “speechless” at the outcome.

Hoegel has admitted to injecting patients with a drug that can cause heart failure or circulatory collapse so he could then try to revive them and, when successful, shine as a saviour before his medical peers.

He said he felt euphoric when he managed to bring a patient back to life, and devastated when he failed.

After the revelations of the nurse's murderous obsession, police and prosecutors launched a special forensic commission dubbed “Kardio” (Cardio) to look into other patient deaths.

Presenting their findings, police said Monday that more than 130 bodies had been exhumed and tested for traces of the deadly drug.

The cause of death in many more could not be determined because the remains were cremated, said Oldenburg police chief Johann Kuehme.

Hoegel had admitted to 30 cases in which he named patients he killed, said prosecutor Daniela Schiereck-Bohlemann.

The grisly case dates back to 2005, when a colleague witnessed the nurse injecting a patient at the Delmenhorst hospital.

The patient survived and the health care worker was arrested and, in 2008, sentenced to seven and a half years in jail for attempted murder.

Amid the media publicity, a woman then contacted police, voicing suspicion that her deceased mother had also fallen victim to the killer nurse.

The authorities exhumed several patients' bodies and detected traces of the drug in five of them, declaring it either the definitive or possible contributing cause.

Hoegel was jailed for life in 2015, but at the time it was clear he had murdered dozens more patients, with investigators admitting they may never know the true number.

GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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