/ 18 July 2006

Arrests for mercy killings after Hurricane Katrina

A doctor and two nurses were arrested for killing four patients in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, investigators said on Tuesday.

An arrest warrant filed on Monday charged that the doctor and nurses administered lethal doses of morphine and another drug to patients at Memorial Medical Centre.

State Attorney General Charles Foti began an investigation shortly after the storm, as rumours circulated that workers had euthanised patients whom they thought were suffering or would not survive the harsh conditions that followed Katrina, including lack of food, drinking water and air conditioning.

While there has been much talk of the use of mercy killings in sweltering and flooded hospitals and nursing homes as the city descended into anarchy, these are the first criminal charges that have been filed.

Foti issued scores of subpoenas for employees in the hospital. He was expected to hold a news conference later on Tuesday in Baton Rouge to provide more details about the arrests and investigation.

Doctor Anna Pou (50) and nurses Cheri Landry (49) and Laura Budo (43) were charged with four counts of second-degree murder. They were released on bail. — AFP