Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Nurse accused of killing patients freed again


An Italian nurse tried multiple times over the death of patients has been cleared again — but the legal ordeal that saw her spend years in prison may not be over.

Daniela Poggiali, 49, was acquitted late Monday on two murder counts by an appeals court in Bologna, which also ordered her release from prison.

She had been accused of killing Rosa Calderoni, 78, and Massimo Montanari, 94, with injections of potassium chloride while on duty in a hospital in Lugo, northern Italy.

Poggiali became notorious as Italian media published pictures of her posing next to dead patients, smiling or making mocking expressions.

But she has now become the latest example of Italy’s tortuous justice system.

Poggiali was first arrested in 2014 in connection to Calderoni’s death and sentenced to life imprisonment two years later.

She was cleared on appeal and freed in 2017 — but prosecutors appealed, and Italy’s top court twice ordered a retrial.

In both instances — in 2019 and then on Monday — the retrials ended with acquittals.

In another twist, the nurse was re-arrested in late 2020 over Montanari’s death and sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment. That conviction was also quashed by Monday’s ruling.

“I am very happy, this was the only possible outcome… I’ll be back with my family,” the nurse was quoted as saying by Italian media.

Prosecutors, however, could yet challenge Monday’s decisions.

The Bologna court was told that mortality rates during her shifts were three to five times higher compared to when her colleagues were working, according to the Ansa news agency.

Nevertheless, judges ruled that there was no case to answer.

Italy is known for having a slow justice system, with cases dragging for years due to multiple appeals possibilities for both the defence and the prosecution.

Speeding up the courts is one of the reforms Prime Minister Mario Draghi has committed in return for billions in grants and loans from the EU’s post-coronavirus recovery fund.


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