Doctor arrested over therapy poisoning

Two patients die after attending Berlin clinic linked to use of heroin and ecstasy
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The Independent Online

A doctor has been arrested after two patients died and another 10 needed hospital treatment for poisoning after a group therapy session.

All 12 patients attending a therapy session with Garri Rober, who has a practice on the outskirts of Berlin, Germany, needed treatment after taking a cocktail of drugs.

One man, aged 59, died at the doctor's medical practice on Saturday. The second, aged 28, died hours later in hospital. A third man remains in a coma and was described as critically ill, but the other nine recovered well enough to be discharged yesterday.

Police and paramedics went to the practice after being alerted by one of the patients who became alarmed when symptoms of nausea and vomiting grew worse. Several of the patients reacted aggressively and had to be restrained by officers. Martin Steltner, a spokesman for the Berlin prosecutor's office, said the doctor had admitted giving the patients a variety of substances and drugs during the meeting.

"During the session, which lasted several hours, he supposedly gave the patients various kinds of substances and drugs that initially led to reactions like nausea and vomiting," he said.

It was uncertain last night whether illegal drugs were involved or how they may have been administered, but there were suggestions that they included heroin, ecstasy and amphetamines.

The deaths and the poisoning of the other patients are being investigated by homicide detectives, and Michael Gassen, of the Berlin police, said: "At this session the participants were given substances. What kind of substances these are ... has to be investigated."

Post mortem examinations have been carried out on the two dead patients, but it will take a while before toxicological tests can be completed to identify all the drugs involved, he said.

On an internet site Rober, 50, describes himself as a psychotherapist for individuals and groups, specialising in "depth psychology, bodywork and art therapy, and spiritual crises".

His wife, who attended the therapy session with him on Saturday, has an alternative medicine practice in the same building in the upmarket suburb of Hermsdorf in the north of the city.

According to Berliner Morgenpost newspaper, Rober is an adherent of the controversial Swiss psychiatrist Samuel Widmer, who promotes the use of drugs in therapy and is considered to have highly permissive views on polygamy and group love.

Widmer, when contacted about the deaths, said he was "shocked" by what had happened in Germany.