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Court Jails Danish Nurse

October 24, 1997

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) _ A nurse charged with killing 22 patients at a Copenhagen nursing home was jailed Friday after police presented new evidence in the case.

The suspect voluntarily appeared in court so the three judges could see ``who she is really _ an ordinary 32-year-old woman,″ defense lawyer Mette Lauritzen told Danish radio. ``Media have described her as some kind of mad person or a monster.″

The nurse allegedly killed the patients, ages 65 to 97, by giving them overdoses of a morphine-based drug. The victims died between August 1994 and March 1997.

Despite the gravity of the charges, the nurse had been released because the city court that charged her on Tuesday said there were no risks she would flee the country, commit new crimes or obstruct the investigation. Police appealed the decision to the higher Eastern High Court.

Prosecutor Michael Joergensen declined to say what new evidence he had presented during Friday’s six-hour closed-door hearing.

Joergensen said the demand for custody had been sparked by police’s fears the suspect could obstruct the investigation and influence witnesses.

A 50-year-old doctor who worked at the downtown Copenhagen home has been charged with negligent homicide and breach of duty. The doctor, who has returned to her practice, cannot be jailed pending trial because the charges against her are insufficient for custody under Danish law.

The nurse has said that she gave the morphine-based medicine to patients primarily on the doctor’s orders. Police say her log seldom matched the doctor’s diaries.

Neither suspect’s name can be published, according to court orders.

The nurse also is charged with theft and embezzlement of $108,000 from nursing home patients. She was fired in March after admitting to minor embezzlement, Copenhagen health officials said.

Police referred to the killings as ``euthanasia,″ but it was not clear if any of the victims were cases of assisted suicide. Both euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal in Denmark.

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