Niels Hoegel

German prosecutors Thursday demanded life in jail for a male nurse accused of being the country’s worst peacetime serial killer for murdering around 100 hospital patients.

Niels Hoegel, 42, who is already behind bars for six killings, has confessed to giving scores more intensive-care patients drug overdoses because he enjoyed the thrill of trying to reanimate them at the last moment.

He was accused of a revised toll of 97 murders, said prosecutor Daniela Schiereck-Bohlmann, as three initial cases could not be proved.

Some investigators, however, believe Hoegel may have killed hundreds more by injecting them with deadly drugs between 2000 and 2005 at clinics in the cities of Oldenburg and nearby Delmenhorst.

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But because the deceased were buried or cremated long ago, autopsies have not been possible in all suspicious cases, and in some the post mortem examinations were inconclusive.

During his new trial since October, the heavy-set and bearded defendant has admitted to 43 killings, denied five and not ruled out 52 others, saying he could not remember.

Schiereck-Bohlmann said that clarity was needed on each death because “just calling him ‘the worst serial killer in history’ isn’t enough to convict him”.

Prosecutors say Hoegel was motivated by vanity, the desire to show off his skills at saving human lives, and by simple boredom.

Some colleagues had reportedly nicknamed him “Resuscitation Rambo”.

Psychologists testifying in court said Hoegel suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder but could be considered fully culpable for his crimes.

At the start of his trial, he apologised to the families of the victims who were aged between 34 and 96.

“If I knew a way that would help you, then I would take it, believe me,” he said. “I am honestly sorry.”

The verdict is scheduled for June 6.

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