[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 28 January, 2005, 23:13 GMT
Life for Swiss 'Angel of Death'
A Swiss male nurse has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering 22 of his patients in nursing homes.

Roger Andermatt, 36, was found guilty of killing them by lethal injection or suffocation, and of attempting to murder five other elderly patients.

Dubbed the Angel of Death by the local media, Andermatt said he had acted from compassion for his frail victims.

The Lucerne court also ordered him to pay SFr75,000 (33,491; $63,252) compensation to four victims' families.

The sentence, which also included SFr191,000 ($161,000) court costs, was higher than prosecutors had asked for.

A criminal investigation concluded last year that Andermatt had killed the patients at several nursing homes in central Switzerland between 1995 and 2001.

Most of his victims were aged between 66 and 95, many suffered from Alzheimer's disease and needed high levels of care.

Euthanasia rules

The investigation found that he had killed his patients by using tranquilisers or smothering them with a plastic bag or cloth.

Andermatt was arrested in June 2001 following a suspicious death in a nursing home in Lucerne. He confessed to nine deaths in that home alone.

He admitted responsibility for 27 killings in total, although he was only sentenced over the deaths of 22.

At least three of the deaths were formally classified as assisted suicides as the authorities said they could not establish whether his actions were the cause of death in those cases.

Lucerne officials issued a statement at the time of the investigation, saying: "The accused gave as his motive acting out of sympathy, compassion, empathy and salvation on the one hand and also cited total overload and relief for himself and the (nursing) team on the other hand."

Euthanasia is tolerated in a number of Swiss cantons, provided strict rules are followed.

Dignitas: Swiss suicide helpers
15 Apr 03 |  Health

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific