Jailed German nurse faces new trial for 97 more murders

A German nurse who is serving life term for killing six patients with heart medication overdoses will face a third trial for 97 more murders later this year, a court spokesman in the northern city of Oldenburg said on Monday.

In a case described by police as unique in post-war Germany, 41-year-old Niels Högel (pictured) secretly injected patients with drugs that cause heart failure or circulatory collapse so he could play the doctor, try to bring them back to life and, if successful, impress fellow nurses and hospital management.

Högel was exposed in 2005 when a nurse saw him trying to inject a patient in Delmenhorst hospital. The patient survived and Högel was arrested.

In 2008, he was sentenced to seven and a half years for several cases of attempted murders. Then a woman turned up at a police station alleging her deceased mother could have been one of Högel’s victims.

In 2015, Högel was given life sentence for six murders.

The investigation later widened after he mentioned more murders to a psychologist during his cell visits. This prompted police and prosecutors to examine hundreds of hospital records and patient files. More than 130 bodies buried between 1999 and 2005 were exhumed from 67 cemeteries.

Toxicological examinations were conducted on exhumed bodies of patients who died in two clinics in Oldenburg and Delmenhorst where he worked between 1999 and 2002 and 2003 and 2005 respectively.

Officials said in November that Högel may have killed over 100 patients in the two clinics — 62 in Delmenhorst and 35 in Oldenburg.

Investigation is spreading to former staff of the two hospitals. Two former physicians in Delmenhorst are already facing charges.

Police are surprised by the failure of the hospital staff to notice so many deaths when Högel was on duty.

Oldenburg Police Chief Johann Kühme said several deaths could have been prevented had the health officials alerted the police about Högel.