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"Angel of Death" gets life sentence

The "Angel of Death" has been handed a life sentence Keystone

A male nurse, dubbed the “Angel of Death”, has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders of 22 elderly people in care homes in Switzerland.

This content was published on January 28, 2005 - 14:39

It is the worst case of serial killing in the country’s recent history.

The 36-year old nurse was also found guilty of attempting to kill five other people but was acquitted of two further charges of murder and attempted murder.

He killed his victims, who were mainly women aged 66-95, by giving them overdoses or smothering them. The murders took place between 1995 and 2001.

During the week-long trial the nurse told judges that he had acted out of pity and compassion for those who died. He said he had wanted to end their physical and mental suffering.

The sentence handed down by the court in Lucerne was heavier than the 17 years demanded by prosecutors.

It is not clear whether the defence will appeal against the verdict.

Suspicious deaths

The nurse was arrested in June 2001 after the authorities became suspicious about the high number of deaths at a special unit for the senile in Lucerne, where he had worked for six months.

Following his arrest, investigators widened their probe to include other homes and hospitals where the man had been a staff member. Five bodies were exhumed as part of the investigation.

Police traced 12 suspicious deaths to one home for the elderly in the nearby town of Sarnen in central Switzerland.

The defendant was also ordered to pay SFr75,000 ($63,000) compensation to relatives of four of his victims and court costs of SFr191,000.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The nurse was arrested in June 2001.
The killings occurred between 1995 and 2001.
All his victims were aged 66-95.
He claimed he acted out of pity.

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