It is an idiosyncratic atmosphere in the courtroom, which is well filled despite the corona crisis. A mammoth trial with first 13 and then another eleven trial days is coming to an end – and everyone already suspects what the verdict will be. On that friday the 13th., then only the presiding judge manfred schmidt has the floor, his verdict can be summarized in two short sentences: the three defendants, the former home manager of the senior citizens’ residence schloss gleusdorf, her care service manager and the home doctor at the time are acquitted and also all exonerated. The costs of the proceedings are borne by the state treasury.
Schmidt’s explanation, which lasted just under an hour, was well-structured and all the more detailed. "It is not the task of the court to uncover the possible misconduct in gleusdorf from 2011 to 2016", schmidt made clear. That is the task of the administrative authorities, which had also reacted with operating orders and prohibitions.
It was about five charges
Out of two file trucks full of investigative procedures, five charges had remained. And if the end result is an acquittal, "then that’s just the way it is". The grand jury was concerned only with the five accused cases; the charges were manslaughter by omission, abuse of a ward and grievous bodily harm. "In these five cases, we do not believe that it was as presented in the indictment." The court had evaluated and examined extensive nursing files, service plans and medical documents, and had heard all essential witnesses. "I became to say that we cleared up this case very fundamentally", explained schmidt. There had been no evidence of any missing files or allegedly manipulated documentation.
As far as the accused fist blow in the face of a resident of the home is concerned, this cannot be proven. Because the main witness varied her statements (as on some other points) strongly. "Whether it was a lie or simply faulty memory can no longer be determined.", says the presiding judge. And the main witness only learned years later about the lethal injection that the head of the nursing service allegedly gave a resident in 2011 – and then even admitted that a close relative had been placed in gleusdorf. As for the case of a resident with severe necrosis of the fingers, it was not clear when this severe damage occurred – and at what point he began to experience severe pain. Because the man was already dying, an amputation was rightly not performed.
Another resident suffered from various organ-specific diseases and had already "said goodbye" with his caregiver and two nurses. As a forensic pathologist explained, hospitalization was not absolutely necessary, either because of his pneumonia or because of the preceding fall. "No nursing or medical misconduct can be established", schmidt also explained the death of another gleusdorf resident. Here, too, the prognosis for the multimorbid patient had already been so bad that her condition in the hospital had probably no longer improved.
Many came to the hospital
A central point of the accusation was the alleged instruction that residents were not allowed to be transferred to a hospital even in urgent cases – unless the head of the home agreed to it. "But even the witnesses who said this have retracted in court." On the other hand, the list of actual hospital stays of gleusdorf residents, which was read out at the end of the evidence, was long.
Accordingly, in the view of the chamber, the defendants were to be acquitted on all counts. Senior public prosecutor otto heyder and all defense attorneys immediately waived their right to appeal. The verdict is already legally binding. The attorneys also announced that they and their clients will seek damages and prosecute some witnesses for false suspicion.