Long jail term sought for "Angel of Death"

The accused confirmed his responsibility during his trial in Emmenbrücke Keystone

Canton Lucerne’s prosecutor is seeking a 17-year jail sentence for the male nurse dubbed the “Angel of Death.”

This content was published on January 21, 2005 minutes

The man, accused of murdering at least 24 patients in homes for the elderly across central Switzerland, said he was acting out of compassion for the victims.

The nurse told the judges that personnel in elderly homes had too many duties to carry out and that he was overworked.

The 36-year-old said he had acted out of pity, compassion and empathy for those who died, adding that he wanted to end their physical and mental suffering.

The prosecutor described the accused as a failure, and someone who had trouble fulfilling his duties as a nurse.

He said five of the patients were murdered simply because the nurse could no longer bear them. The man is also accused of murdering 19 others and attempting to kill three more.

In the latter three cases, investigators were unable ascertain whether the nurse’s actions were the cause of death.


The prosecutor said the 36-year-old had failed to carry out his duties and killed people who still wanted to live. The prosecution decided, however, against requesting a life sentence since the man had admitted his guilt.

The defence lawyer claimed the accused had not acted in unscrupulous manner, but he did not take issue with the prosecutor’s demand for a long jail term.

The lawyer added that if his client had not spoken up, he would have been accused of only one murder. He also requested that the charges before the court be limited to 22 murders and one attempted murder.

The defence said the accused had expressed remorse and believed that he had been acting in good faith.


The nurse, who was arrested in June 2001, is said to have either smothered his victims with a plastic bag or towel or given them an overdose of tranquillisers.

His arrest came after several suspicious deaths were reported 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 worked.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The 36-year-old nurse has been charged with 24 murders and three attempted murders.
The killings took place over a seven-year period.
He was arrested in June 2001.
He told police that he acted out of compassion for the patients.
A verdict will only be made public on February 2.

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