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Nurse goes on trial in Germany over 100 patient deaths

Former nurse Niels Hoegel covers his face as he arrives for the start of his trial in a courtroom in Oldenburg, Germany, October 30, 2018

A nurse serving a life sentence for two murders has gone on trial on charges that he killed a further 100 patients at two hospitals in Germany.

The murder charges against Niels Hoegel, 41, stem from his time at a hospital in the north-western city of Oldenburg between 1999 and 2002 and at another hospital in nearby Delmenhorst from 2003 to 2005.

Hoegel was convicted in 2015 of two murders and two attempted murders.

During that trial, he said he intentionally brought about cardiac crises in some 90 patients in Delmenhorst because he enjoyed the feeling of being able to resuscitate them. He later told investigators that he also killed patients in Oldenburg.

Authorities subsequently investigated hundreds of deaths, exhuming the bodies of former patients.

The Oldenburg state court is conducting the trial at a courtroom set up in a conference centre, a venue chosen to accommodate a large number of co-plaintiffs as well as public interest in the proceedings.

An additional conviction could affect Hoegel’s possibility of parole, but there are no consecutive sentences in Germany. In general, people serving life sentences are considered for parole after 15 years.

Police have said that, if local health officials had not hesitated in alerting authorities, Hoegel could have been stopped earlier.

Authorities are pursuing criminal cases against former staff at the two medical facilities.

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