BERLIN – Something was very wrong with the valve factory. A 23-year-old intern at ARI-Armaturen, a medium-sized manufacturer in the German industrial city of Schloß Holte-Stukenbrock, fell into a permanent vegetative state. He turned out to have taken high toxic mercury, but investigators could not train where it had come.
Another employee of the same shift went to doctors at least five times with mystery symptoms, and eventually turned out to have a severe kidney injury.
The truth arose, according to media reports, only when a third employee, Klaus Radke, noticed a brown subject in him-and-cheese sandwiches that he took from home. After it had happened several times, he went to the police and about 1
8 months after the young trainean fell into a coma, they asked the company to install a camera in their room.
A 57-year-old machinist, identified only by German secrecy laws such as Klaus O., poisoned his colleagues’ sandwiches. On Thursday, a court in the nearby town of Bielefeld sentenced him to prison.
And the verdict against him, for worsening attempted murder and nine other allegations concerning the trainee and two colleagues with permanent kidney damage, did not mark the investigation ended.
The district lawyer responsible for the Veit Walter case said that his office investigated 21 deaths in and around the company, previously considered unconnected, for “any indication of erroneous play that would motivate an excavation.” May 16 last year, after the video showed that he walked into the rest room, a cola’s backpack and sprinkled powder opened on their sandwiches.
The engineer was found to have a bottle of high toxic lead acetate pellets. The police then directed their home and discovered what was described in court as a basement laboratory.
During the trial, a psychiatrist showed that the defendant was interested in looking at the effects of toxins on the health of his victims. He used lead, cadmium and mercury, mixed with chemicals in his home laboratory.
Mr. Radk’s final suspect sandwich – which he took to the police, after photographing and throwing away previous examples – is said to have resulted in nearly 71,000 micrograms of lead, one significant but far from lethal dose.
The court heard that the defendant had been experimenting with toxins for years and had ordered a new charge on the internet days before his arrest. Investigators also found extremely high levels of mercury on his property.
During the trial, which began in November, the defendant did not speak, in addition to identifying himself to the judge, in accordance with the German courtroom. But the court heard testimony from the man’s separate siblings who described a traumatic and poor upbringing.
During the trial, a psychiatrist had confirmed that the defendant was not only fully responsible for his actions, but that he could replay if given a chance.
According to German law, prisoners given life sentences are entitled to scrutiny and possibly parole after 15 years. The judgment in this case also included preventive security guard, an indication that the man is likely to remain in prison indefinitely.
Such measures are extremely rare in the German legal system and reflect how rough the court considers the crimes. Last year, a pedophile was sentenced for a horrific and systemic abuse by a similar security guard.
“It is not legally binding yet, because his lawyers plan to appeal, but once it is probably the most serious punishment you can get under German law,” said Phil Gabler, a spokesman for the court, on the sentence of Klaus O
At one point during the trial, District Attorney Mr. Radke asked why he never started to lock the backpack where he took his sandwiches.
“No one thinks a colleague is doing something like that,” he replied. “Because everyone trusts each other.”