A German former nurse serving a life sentence for two murders is suspected of having killed at least 24 more patients with lethal drug overdoses.
Investigators plan to carry out exhumations until the end of May to examine remains of possible victims.
The man, identified only as Niels H, 39, was convicted in February last year over two patients’ deaths at a clinic in Delmenhorst, north Germany.
In court he admitted killing up to 30 patients with heart medication.
The judges at the Oldenburg district court concluded that he had a desire to shine by resuscitating patients. He gave them overdoses of a drug that shut down their cardiovascular systems.
The deaths took place between 2003 and 2005. Police are investigating at least 200 deaths, including at other clinics where he worked, in Oldenburg and Wilhelmshaven.
If found guilty over the other deaths, Niels H would become one of Germany’s worst post-war serial killers.
During the trial one senior doctor described Niels H as a “passionate medic” who had made a good impression on staff.
Doctors did notice, however, that he always seemed to be around when patients were being resuscitated, often assisting junior doctors with the procedure, he added.
Although he was charged with three murders, the court found him guilty on only two counts, explaining that it could not be proved that the former nurse had been responsible for the third death.