Katrina deaths: Three charged

2006-07-18 18:19

New Orleans - A doctor and two nurses at a New Orleans hospital have been charged with murder in the investigation of possible "mercy killings" of patients after Hurricane Katrina, a state spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Attorney general Charles Foti planned to announce details later in the day of his investigation into whether some of the patients at Memorial Hospital were killed, spokesperson Kris Wartelle said.

More than 200 sick and elderly patients in area nursing homes and hospitals died in the aftermath of the August 29 hurricane, when food and water was scarce, electricity spotty and hospitals overwhelmed.

Witnesses have said conditions at Memorial deteriorated quickly as temperatures rose above 38°C inside the building and the sanitation system broke down.

The three people were charged with second-degree murder and arrested on Monday night, said Wartelle.

She declined to say whether euthanasia, or mercy killing, was an element in the case.

Foti in October issued 73 subpoenas for hospital employees after dozens died in the medical centre.

The attorney general at that time was investigating allegations ranging from abandonment of patients to euthanasia at six hospitals and 13 nursing homes in the state.