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NURSE HELD IN DEATHS OF 22 ELDERLY

A 32-year-old nurse was charged today with killing 22 people with drugs in a nursing home for the elderly.

Authorities said the nurse allegedly gave the victims a morphine-based drug. Police referred to the killings as "euthanasia," but it was not immediately clear if any of the victims -- ages 65 to 97 -- were cases of assisted suicide.

Both euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal in Denmark.

The woman was arrested Monday. She also is charged with theft and embezzlement of $108,000 from nursing home patients.

The nurse denied the killings but told a Copenhagen court that she had given medicine to patients without consulting with a doctor on one or two occasions, Danish radio said.

Police said the killings, which came to light during an investigation of fraud at the facility, took place in the nursing home in Copenhagen between August 1994 and last March. The victims were 15 women and seven men. The nurse was fired in March, although the reason for the dismissal was not immediately known.

A doctor also has been charged with breach of duty and negligent homicide in the case.

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