World

German nurse admits to killing 99 patients

A German nurse admitted in court on Tuesday to being post-war Germany's deadliest serial killer, causing the deaths of 99 patients with lethal injections so that he could play the hero by trying to revive them.

Niels Hoegel allegedly killed victims, aged 34 to 96, by lethal injection

Niels Hoegel, 41, covers his face as he arrives for the start of his trial in a courtroom in Oldenburg, Germany, on Tuesday. He's charged with causing the deaths of dozens of patients using lethal injections. (Julian Stratenschulte/Reuters)

A German nurse admitted in court on Tuesday to being post-war Germany's deadliest serial killer, causing the deaths of 99 patients with lethal injections so that he could play the hero by trying to revive them.

When Judge Sebastian Buehrmann asked Niels Hoegel if the charges against him were valid, he affirmed it and said: "All that I have admitted to is true."

Hoegel, 41, hid his face behind a blue plastic folder as he was ushered into the courtroom in the northern city of Oldenburg by police and his lawyer.

He had already been sentenced to 15 years in jail in 2015 after he was found guilty of killing two patients with lethal injections. In January, prosecutors brought new charges against him for killing another 97 people.

His admission will not end the trial, at which families of the victims hope to uncover more information about the crimes. The trial is scheduled to last until May.

"We want him to get the sentence that he deserves," said Frank Brinkers, whose father died in an overdose allegedly administered by Hoegel. "When this trial is over, we want to put this whole thing behind us and find closure."

Trial opens with moment of silence

Prosecutors in the northern German city of Oldenburg say an investigation and toxicology reports showed that he injected 35 people at one clinic, in Oldenburg, and 62 at another in nearby Delmenhorst, with drugs that could kill them.

The alleged victims were aged between 34 and 96.

On Tuesday, Buehrmann opened the proceedings by asking everyone in the courtroom to stand for a minute of silence for the deceased patients.

Judge Sebastian Buehrmann asked for a moment of silence to begin Hoegel's trial on Tuesday. (Julian Stratenschulte/AFP/Getty Images)

"All of their relatives deserve that their memory be honoured," whether or not Hoegel had anything to do with their deaths, Buehrmann said. "We will make every effort to seek the truth."

Ten years ago, a German nurse was convicted of killing 28 elderly patients. He said he gave them lethal injections because he felt sorry for them, and was sentenced to life in prison.

In Britain, it was believed Dr. Harold Shipman killed as many as 250 people, most of them elderly and middle-aged women who were his patients.

Known as Dr. Death, Shipman was sentenced to 15 life terms in 2000. He died in prison in 2004, apparently by suicide.

With files from The Associated Press