OLDENBURG, Germany (AFP) - A German hospital nurse was sentenced to life in prison Thursday for murdering two patients who were victims of a suspected wider killing spree that he says claimed 30 lives.
The 38-year-old man, identified only as Niels H., has admitted to injecting his patients with lethal drug doses in a bid to try to revive them and shine as a saviour before his medical peers.
"The accused is sentenced to life in prison," said the presiding judge, finding the defendant guilty of two murders and two attempted murders, and noting the "severity" of the crimes.
He was on trial for causing the patients' deaths in an intensive care ward in northern Germany a decade ago, but admitted during the trial that he had played his deadly game on 90 patients, leading to 30 deaths.
Authorities said Monday they would exhume the bodies of more former patients to test them for traces of the lethal doses of heart medicine amid fears H. is one of the worst serial killers in German post-war history.
The sweeping investigation is looking into some 200 fatalities recorded at the hospital where he worked and at his previous places of employment, to find out whether the four cases are only the tip of the iceberg.
The defendant has admitted he injected critically ill patients with lethal doses of heart medicine so he could then show off his skills in resuscitating them at the Delmenhorst hospital near the northern city of Bremen.
"Usually the decision to do it was relatively spontaneous," the handcuffed defendant - who was not fully named under Germany's strict court reporting rules and has shielded his face behind a paper folder - told the chamber last week.
"There was a tension there, and an expectation of what would happen next," said the tall and heavy-set man, who apologised to victims' relatives for his deadly obsession.
He said he felt euphoric when he managed to bring a patient back to life, and devastated when he failed.
Each time he would then vow to himself to end his deadly game, he said, only to strike again soon after.