GENEVA – Swiss prosecutors said Friday they had opened a criminal investigation after an alleged care-home nurse posted pictures of herself on Facebook sitting next to the corpse of an old woman.
Prosecutors in the eastern region of Saint Gallen told Swiss news agency ATS that the suspected offense was disturbing the peace of the dead, a crime carrying up to three years in prison.
In a string of pictures revealed Friday by the 20 Minuten newspaper — which said they had been spotted by a reader — a woman in a nurse’s uniform was seen laughing and posing at the bedside of a dead woman.
The pictures were accompanied by off-color comments.
The newspaper blanked out the faces of the nurse and the dead woman, as well as the nurse’s Facebook name and those of people who commented on the posting.
Other pictures posted on the woman’s page — which featured what appeared to be Satanist imagery — showed her standing in front of an ambulance, sitting on a motorbike and cavorting in sado-masochist poses.
Later Friday, the tabloid Blick said it had managed to identify the woman as an immigrant from the Philippines who was married to a Swiss man.
The newspaper said the woman worked as a cook not a nurse, and was also offered sado-masochist services.
Blick said the pictures had been taken in January 2012 at a care home in the community of Mogelsberg which was subsequently closed for unrelated reasons.
The woman reportedly told Blick that she had simply wanted to show a friend back home in the Philippines the realities of life and death in Switzerland.
“I didn’t mean to hurt anyone or show a lack of respect,” she was quoted as saying.
Blick said it had also managed to contact the relatives of the dead woman, and that they had demanded that all pictures of her be removed from the Internet.
In a statement, the Swiss national nurses’ federation said in a statement it was “shocked and saddened”, adding that the case highlighted broader concerns about the Swiss healthcare sector.
“To be able to prevent the repeat of such a case, there is a desperate need for an active professional register and attractive working conditions to counteract the acute shortage of staff,” it said.
“Whether this was a qualified nurse, a professional carer or a simple assistant, it is clear that people like this should not be in the health sector,” it added.
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