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Doctor suspected of killing COVID patients

November 21, 2020

A German doctor is facing manslaughter charges over two deaths, reportedly of COVID-19 patients. Police cited him as giving medication to hasten the death of one patient and to "avert further suffering."

Arzt mit Klemmbrett
Image: Colourbox/Pressmaster

Two patients, aged 47 and 50, were terminally ill when a senior doctor allegedly administered medication that led to their immediate deaths, police said Friday.

Authorities are still investigating the circumstances of the two deaths amid reports that the patients were being treated for COVID-19.

The senior doctor, 44, employed since February at the University Hospital in Essen city in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), was arrested on Wednesdaycharged with manslaughter on Thursday and remained in custodycity police said. 

Read more: German court paves way to assisted suicide

The hospital said suspicions about the deaths on November 13 and 17 had prompted it to immediately notify prosecutors and remove the doctor from duty. 

Outside of the Essen University Hospital
The doctor was employed at the Essen University HospitalImage: Marcel Kusch/dpa/picture alliance

Only in one case, said Essen police, had the accused stated that he wanted to end the further suffering of the patient and his relatives. Both patients had been in "very critical conditions" in the doctor's ward.  

The tabloid newspaper Bild described them as suffering from coronavirus infections and hospitalized in a ward treating COVID-19 patients. 

Prosecutors said, however, they could not provide more details on treatments the patients received because the investigation was ongoing. 

Seriously ill patients in Germany can request help in ending their lives under a court ruling issued last year, but it was unclear if this had happened in the doctor's case and there are several steps required before such assistance can be provided.

Assisted death is an extremely sensitive topic in Germany in light of the legacy of the 6 million Jews killed and experimented on by the Nazi regime during the Holocaust.

ipj/sms (dpaAFP)