Thursday, July 12, 2007

Nurse gets life for killing patients

Fri, 29 Jun 2007

A nurse at Berlin's prestigious Charite hospital was sentenced to life in prison on Friday for killing five seriously ill patients with drug overdoses.

The 55-year-old nurse, Irene Becker, admitted at the start of her trial to killing four patients at the hospital's cardiology unit and asked the families of her victims to forgive her.

She claimed that she had acted out of compassion but the prosecution rejected this, saying she had "played God".

State prosecutor Thorsten Neudeck alleged that Becker gave a male patient a lethal injection in 2005 simply because she was angry that he would not calm down.

In another case, he said, the nurse gave a woman with a weak heart a fatal dose of blood pressure medication while the patient's husband was sitting by her bed.

The state had accused Becker of a sixth murder as well as one case of attempted murder, but failed to prove these charges.

The court found that the nurse is mentally unstable, with a narcissistic personality disorder, but bears responsibility for her crimes.

Becker worked at the intensive care ward in the Charite's cardiology unit, where all the victims were patients. They were killed in 2005 and 2006.

Witnesses had told the court that internal problems at the hospital whose origins date back to 1710 had prevented the murders coming to light earlier.

A staff member testified that at least two of the killings took place in the period that lapsed between suspicions arising in the ward and management being informed.

In 2006, a male nurse was sentenced to life in prison in Germany for administering lethal injections to 28 mostly elderly patients.