Heparin killer mentally healthy, experts claim

Jiří Máslo and Naďa Straková
13. 2. 2008 17:00
Ex-nurse accused of murdering seven patients
Former nurse Petr Zelenka at the court
Former nurse Petr Zelenka at the court | Foto: Jiří Máslo

Hradec Králové - The trial with the "heparin killer" Petr Zelenka, a nurse accused of 7 murders and 10 attempted murders at a hospital he once worked for, continued on Tuesday by hearing from psychology and psychiatric experts.

Petr Zelenka injected patients with an anticoagulant substance known as heparin, excessive doses of which can cause internal bleeding and become lethal.

He used to work at an intense care unit of a hospital in east-Bohemian town of Havlíčkův Brod and it took seven long months before anyone noticed the suspiciously high number of patients dying from internal bleeding in the hospital.

No hallucinations

The experts assessed whether Zelenka was sane when injecting the lethal heparin doses and is therefore accountable for the murders. According to their diagnosis, Zelenka was "mentally healthy".

"He is not suffering and has never been suffering from any mental disorder that would prevent him from controlling his behaviour," psychiatrist Vanda Valentová stated.

To object the psychiatrist´s remark, the defendant´s lawyer asked the experts: "Do you know anything about the defendant's hallucinations? Did he confess that to you?"

"No. He never spoke of this. As we only learned this information from the media, we asked him directly. But he did not confirmed it," Valentová replied.

Emotionally cold

At the latest court hearing judge focused on defining Zelenka's motive for all the murders.

"It was the desire to experience excitement and control over others. He wanted to cause disturbance at his workplace and compete with doctors. From the very beginning he had expected not to be uncovered. Zelenka himself confessed how happy he was that he did something the doctors could not solve," said psychologist Petr Goldman.

According to him, Zelenka also displayed emotional coldness and low empathy.

Valentová shares this view: "Only gradually he realised what he had done. However, he tended to pity himself more than the patients."

Accusations of conspiracy

Petr Zelenka protested against the experts' conclusions.

He is mentally healthy, say the experts Petr Goldman and Vanda Valentová
He is mentally healthy, say the experts Petr Goldman and Vanda Valentová | Foto: Jiří Máslo

"I have never had the feelings you are talking about. I came to the conclusion that you are not interested in finding out why all of that really happened. I think the scenario for your investigation was prepared at the beginning by the police, media and prosecutor," Zelenka added.

The defendant's lawyer, Jan Herout, repeated that he demands revision of the given expertises. "I have already provided the court with a list of institutes that should examine Petr Zelenka," Herout said.

The trial will continue with reading the accounts of the witnesses who did not appear in the court.

On February 19, experts should comment on individual patients' cause of death.

The final verdict is expected on February 21.


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