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Police want duo jailed again in 22 deaths

Disturbed by the release of the nurse and doctor charged in the killings of 22 people at a nursing home, police Wednesday sought to return them to custody.

The nurse and the doctor were released Tuesday, just hours after officials shocked the country with news of the killings. The Copenhagen City Court said the suspects were unlikely to flee Denmark, but police have appealed that ruling to a higher court.Prosecutors went to court Wednesday to appeal the ruling on behalf of police.

It's not unusual for homicide suspects to be released pending trial in Denmark, which has no bail system. But many Danes regard this as a special case, because of the number killed and because the aged and ailing victims were especially vulnerable.

The case also has raised questions about whether other personnel at the nursing home were sufficiently vigilant. Reports said Wednesday that some of the home's workers referred to the floor where the nurse worked as "death row" because of the high rate of fatalities there.

"It was a conversation matter at the nursing home and it surprised us that there was a higher death rate on the third floor than on the first floor," the Berlingske Tidende newspaper quoted an unidentified employee as saying.

But whether the workers at the state-run home reported their observations to superiors was not immediately known.

According to police, the victims, aged 65 to 97, died after being given a morphine-based drug. The deaths occurred between August 1994 and March.

The nurse, 32, is charged with murder and the doctor, who has a separate practice along with working at the home, is charged with negligent homicide and breach of duty. Neither suspect's name was released under a court order.

The nurse also is charged with theft and embezzlement of $108,000 from nursing home patients. She was fired in March after admitting to minor theft, said Lars Engberg, the city's top health official.

Police referred to the killings as "euthanasia," but it was not clear if any of the victims were cases of assisted suicide.

Both euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal in Denmark.