A man has gone on trial in Germany for allegedly poisoning his co-workers’ lunches over a period of years.
The unidentified 57-year-old has been charged with attempted murder after he was arrested earlier this year.
He is accused of lacing sandwiches with substances including lead acetate and mercury, causing one victim to fall into a coma with brain damage, while another has serious kidney damage.
Prosecutors at the trial in the western city of Bielefeld say the man poisoned lunches of workers at a metal fittings factory in Schloss Holte-Stukenbrock, northwest Germany, from 2015 until his arrest this year.
He was arrested after allegedly being caught in the act of putting a suspicious powder on a colleague’s sandwich.
The powder was later identified as lead acetate – a highly toxic and nearly tasteless substance that can cause serious organ damage.
After his arrest in June, police reportedly found quicksilver, lead and cadmium inside the suspect’s home and believed he may have been responsible for up to 21 deaths of people working at the company since 2000.
“In the beginning we thought it was a misconceived prank between co-workers, and not a murder attempt,” Tilo Blechinger, the manager for the metal fittings manufacturer ARI Armaturen, said.
The suspect, who also faces charges of causing bodily harm, had been working at the metal factory for 38 years.