Two nurses have been arrested in Uruguay on charges related to the murders of 16 gravely ill patients in their hospitals. A third nurse was additionally implicated for her involvement in helping to conceal the crimes.
The nurses worked at the Spanish Association and the Maciel public hospitals. No immediate connection between them has been made.
The two are said to have administered lethal injections to gravely ill patients, using either morphine or air to the neck. The victims would have died within a matter of minutes.
They have been officially charged with 16 deaths; however, the Criminal Justice that investigated the murders said there were likely at least 50.
In January, an anonymous tip was submitted to an official at Maciel Hospital that spurred the investigation of various deaths. A specialized team called “Operation Angels” was subsequently created under the Department of Supervision of Organized Crime.
Judge Rolando Vomero has been assigned to oversee the criminal proceedings, and announced that the two have each confessed to their involvement; Acevedo admitting to 11, and Pereira to five.
According to Vomero, when the defendants, Ariel Acevedo and Marcelo Pereira, were asked of their reason for the crimes, they responded that their motivations were “humanitarian” by nature.
“It was not that they wanted to see people die,” the judge explained. “They wanted the people to stop suffering.”
Santiago Clavijo, Pereira’s defense attorney, echoed the judge’s report.
“My client says it was for humanitarian reasons,” Clavijo told Radio 10 this morning. “The motive was for mercy, as many were patients for several years. The medication was not to result in death, it was to stop the pain.”
Although many of the patients were terminally ill, death was not imminent for most. The names of the victims have not yet been announced, and officials say that families will be contacted once the causes of the deaths have been confirmed.
Today, the Uruguayan government confirmed that not all of the 16 deaths were a result of the nurses. Interior minister Eduardo Bonomi said the case was “not easy” and would likely take “some time.”