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CRIME

‘Worst serial killer in post-war German history’ charged with 97 more murders

A German male nurse serving a life term for killing six hospital patients with lethal drugs out of "boredom" will face trial for another 97 murders, prosecutors said Monday.

'Worst serial killer in post-war German history' charged with 97 more murders
Niels Högel. Photo: DPA

The third trial of Niels Högel, 41, accused of being the worst serial killer in German post-war history, is expected to start later this year, a court spokesman in the northern city of Oldenburg told AFP. 

Högel has admitted to injecting patients with drugs that 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 and superiors.

In a case police have called “unique in the history of the German republic,” he earlier testified that at times he acted out of “boredom”, feeling euphoric when he managed to bring a patient back to life. 

He was found guilty of six killings in two earlier trials, but investigators have pushed on with toxicology tests on hundreds more exhumed bodies.

On Monday, Oldenburg prosecutors said they had charged him with 97 additional murders on top of the six he has been convicted of, while saying toxicology tests did not find conclusive proof in three more cases.

Of the newly discovered cases, 62 patients died in the Delmenhorst hospital near the northern city of Bremen and 35 in a clinic in Oldenburg.

The revelations date back to 2005, when a female nurse witnessed Högel trying to inject a patient at the Delmenhorst hospital. The patient survived and Högel was arrested.

In 2008, he was sentenced to seven and a half years in jail for several cases of 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.

Högel meanwhile told fellow inmates and then a psychiatrist that he had committed scores more killings.

He was jailed for life in 2015, but at the time it was clear he had murdered many more patients, with investigators admitting they may never know the true number as some remains had been cremated.

Separate investigations are looking at the clinics in Delmenhorst and Oldenburg and whether superiors there had cause to suspect foul play in the high number of patient deaths.

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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