French pensioner poisoner charged

2013-12-12 21:44
Cesalet retirement centre in Jacob-Bellecombette near Chambery, French Alps. (Philippe Desmazes, AFP)

Cesalet retirement centre in Jacob-Bellecombette near Chambery, French Alps. (Philippe Desmazes, AFP)

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Paris - A French care worker has been charged with fatally poisoning six pensioners in a retirement home in the French Alps and attempting to poison three others, a local prosecutor said on Thursday.

The 30-year-old woman fed the nine elderly residents a "cocktail of psychotropic drugs", said Dietlind Baudoin, deputy prosecutor for the town of Chambery.

Baudoin said the victims, all in their eighties, had "frailties linked to their age" but were in good health, and not nearing the end of their lives.

The suspect "admitted that she wanted to relieve the suffering" of the victims, but did not confess to wanting to kill them, a police source said earlier. All the deaths occurred since the beginning of October.

The care worker was arrested on Tuesday, initially only in connection with the death of an 84-year-old woman who fell into a coma on 27 November for no apparent reason and died two days later in the Chambery Hospital Centre.

The accused had devoted a lot of time to looking after her mother, who had recently died.

The centre said the doctor who oversaw the Cesalet retirement home on the outskirts of Chambery had "reported a resident falling into a coma for which the cause could not be established following her transfer to the emergency unit."

"The following day, toxicology analyses revealed the presence of psychotropic drugs at levels which indicated they had been administered in a higher dose than normal for therapeutic purposes," it said in a statement.

"None of the pharmaceutical products identified had been prescribed for this resident."

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