Monday 23 May 2022

Update: Nurse Lucia de Berk not guilty of murdering seven patients

Nurse Lucia de Berk has been formally found not guilty of murdering seven patients and attempting to murder three more, ending one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in Dutch legal history.


De Berk, who always maintained her innocence, was jailed for life in 2004.
The case against her was largely based on statistical evidence and claims that a baby had been poisoned.
That supposed murder, later disputed by toxicologists, led prosecutors to state that other patients had also been killed by her.

Campaigns

Following campaigns by doctors and statisticians, De Berk was released from jail in 2008 pending a review of the case and eventual retrial. In March, the public prosecution department urged judges to find her not guilty.
The way is now clear for De Berk, once described as the Netherlands’ most notorious serial killer, to make a substantial claim for damages.
Justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin told reporters he has sent De Berk a letter apologising for her incarceration. ‘What has been done to her is dreadful,’ he said.

Compensation

The former nurse is entitled to ‘generous’ financial compensation, he said. De Berk spent over six years in jail.
Public prosecution department chief Harm Brouwer has already apologised to De Berk in a private meeting last week, Nos tv reports.
The public prosecution department has also apologised to families of the people deemed to be De Berk’s victims.
Statistics
The alleged murders and attempted murders took place at three hospitals between 1997 and 2001. They came to light after police began investigating the death of a baby girl named Amber.
De Berk’s eventual conviction was based on two deaths, including that of baby Amber, which toxicology reports said could have been caused by digoxin poisoning.
All the other patients were either very old or very sick and died as a result of ‘medically unexplained’ causes. In these cases, De Berk was on duty ‘noticeably often’ when someone died, the prosecution department had claimed.
The statistical probability of her being present at so many deaths was central to the prosecution’s case. None of the alleged victims underwent post mortem examinations.

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