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German serial killer nurse gets life term for murder of 85 patients

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By Philip Pangalos
German serial killer nurse gets life term for murder of 85 patients

A German nurse thought to be the country’s most prolific serial killer has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of 85 patients.

Niels Högel injected drugs into his victims in order to give his patients heart attacks and receive praise from his colleagues for giving resuscitation.

The murders took place between 2000 and 2005 in the northern German towns of Delemhorst and Oldenburg.

The former nurse was in total accused of 100 murders, targeting patients aged between 34 and 96 years old, and acquitted of 15 cases because of a lack of evidence.

Christian Marbach, whose grandfather was found to be one of Högel’s victims in a previous trial, called the outcome a “milestone”, but insisted that further investigations into conduct at the two clinics were required.

"What follows is the investigation and trial against the hospitals in Oldenburg and Delemhorst. I hope that the trial is merged so that the scale and connection of the two hospitals is clear. I promised my family that I would not only ensure that the murderer goes to prison but also all the others who were responsible. I believe it is very important for all of us to bring those responsible to justice, all those who with their actions or omissions made it possible for this series of murders to take place," he said.

Police say the final death toll could be as high as 200, but the Oldenburg district court heard that police were unsure as to the real number because many of those killed were cremated before autopsies could verify whether or not Högel was responsible for their deaths.

Högel is already serving a life sentence for two murders and two attempted murders in 2015.

Judge Sebastian Bührmann said that the 42-year-old nurse committed crimes “beyond comprehension”.

The judge added that while there are no consecutive sentences in Germany, the “particular seriousness” of the crimes committed means Högel will all but certainly remain behind bars after the normal 15-year-term finishes.