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German ex-nurse admits at trial to killing 100 patients

Högel at the trial on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

A German former nurse accused of killing 100 patients in his care admitted Tuesday to the murders on the opening day of his trial.

Asked by the presiding judge at the court in the northern city of Oldenburg whether the charges against him were accurate, Niels Högel replied "yes".

"What I have admitted took place," the 41-year-old added.

A moment of silence

Immediately before the trial, Judge Sebastian Bührmann asked all those present to stand up for a minute of silence. "All their relatives deserve to be honoured," said Bührmann, adding that this is independent of whether Högel had anything to do with their death or not.

"We will make every effort to seek the truth," Bührmann promised.

Addressing Högel, he said: "I will negotiate fairly with you, I will negotiate openly with you in good things, and in bad."

A public prosecutor had dealt with each of the 100 cases. Högel had already been sentenced to the maximum sentence of life imprisonment in 2015 for the death of six patients in the Delmenhorst Intensive Care Unit.

According to the public prosecutor, Högel injected his victims with a drug that had deadly side effects. He then tried to revive the patients – which in many cases failed. His motive was said to be boredom and a craving for recognition in front of colleagues.

The trial is complex and costly. The public prosecutor's office has named 23 witnesses and 11 toxicological and forensic experts.

"We fought for four years for this trial and expect Högel to be convicted of another 100 murders," said Christian Marbach, the spokesman for the relatives, whose grandfather was killed by Högel. "The goal is for Högel to remain in prison as long as possible."

Not all of the more than 120 joint plaintiffs appeared on Tuesday. In the reserved rows of seats, many chairs remained empty.

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