A machinist has been given a life sentence for poisoning his colleagues’ sandwiches with a white powdery substance “more dangerous” than any combat agent used in World War II.
One of the attempted murder victims was left in a permanent vegetative state after eating food spiked with the tasteless poison, a court in Germany heard.
Tests found that the toxic substance used by the 57-year-old attacker, named only as Klaus O, was acetate, which can cause serious organ damage.
The court heard he set up a laboratory in the basement of his home, and he was like a scientist carrying out experiments on rabbits.
Police have launched an investigation into the deaths of 21 people who worked at the same metal fittings company since 2000.
Klaus, from Schloss Holte-Stukenbrock in northwestern Germany, was caught last year after CCTV showed him putting the powder on a colleague’s sandwich at work, a court was told.
Police searched his home and found mercury, lead, and cadmium.
The court heard one victim, a 23-year-old man, was left in a permanent vegetative state after ingesting the poison.
“He only exists as the physical shell of himself,” Judge Georg Zimmerman told the court, MOZ reported.
The man’s parents were in court to watch Klaus jailed, and broke into tears during the proceedings.
Two other colleagues, aged 27 and 67, had damage to their kidneys and require dialysis.
Klaus did not give evidence at his trial and a motive was never determined, said prosecutors.
The court heard from a psychologist who said Klaus was like a scientist who “was trying to see how different substances affected rabbits”.
Klaus was convicted of attempted murder and the judge told him he was a “danger to the general public” and he would not be eligible to have his sentence reduced, the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported.
Judge Zimmerman said the substance used to poison the victims was “more dangerous than any combat agent used during World War II”, MOZ reported.