BERLIN (AP) — 100 patients across two hospitals in northern Germany were killed by the hands of a former nurse.
- 100 patients have been killed by a former nurse
- The killings took place at two separate hospitals in northern Germany
- A verdict is expected Thursday
Niels Hoegel, 42, apologized to his victims’ relatives in a final statement to the court Wednesday saying he realized how much pain and suffering he had caused with his “terrible deeds.”
“Now I sit here fully convinced that I want to give every relative an answer,” Hoegel said during the trial. “To each and every one of you I sincerely apologize for all that I have done,” Hoegel told the Oldenburg regional court after his defense attorneys had made their closing arguments, according to the dpa news agency.
His defense attorneys argued for acquittals in 31 of the 100 counts of murder against him, suggesting there was not enough evidence in those cases.
The 100 deaths which took place at two separate hospitals – a hospital in Oldenburg between 1999 and 2002, and a hospital in nearby Delmenhorst from 2003 to 2005 – are believed to be the largest string of serial killings in post-war Germany. The victims ranged in age from 34 to 96.
“Neither we nor Mr. Hoegel deny that he is the perpetrator in many cases,” one of his defenders, Ulrike Baumann told the court. “But he can only be convicted for crimes he committed and not for crimes he could have committed.”
In 2015 Hoegel was convicted of two murders and two attempted murders. During his first trial Hoegel said he intentionally brought about cardiac crises in some 90 patients in Delmenhorst because he enjoyed the feeling of being able to resuscitate them. He later told investigators that he also killed patients in Oldenburg.
Authorities subsequently investigated hundreds of deaths, exhuming bodies of former patients.
Pleas are not entered in the German legal system, but over the course of the seven-month trial, Hoegel admitted to 43 of the killings, disputed five and said he could not remember the other 52.
The defense team and prosecutors have asked for a life sentence, but prosecutors have also asked the court to recognize the “particular seriousness of the crime,” making it likely he would have to serve more than the standard 15-year sentence.
Hoegel testified that his grandmother and father were both nurses and his role models for aspiring to be in the profession. He said he had a “protected” childhood, free of violence.
Christian Marbach, a spokesman for the affected families whose grandfather was among the victims, doubted Hoegel’s sincerity.
“Hoegel is and remains a liar,” Marbach said. “He tactically only admitted what could already 100 percent be proven against him.”
A verdict is expected on Thursday, June 6, 2019.