A 33-year-old Greek mother facing charges of murdering her 9-year-old daughter in Patras. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Vasilis Rebapis)
ATHENS – A 33-year-old Greek mother facing charges of murdering her 9-year-old daughter with a power animal anaesthetic – as authorities investigate the previous deaths of her other two children – was given more time to prepare her defense.
Roula Pispirigou, surrounded by police after crowds had gathered outside her home in the western Greek city of Patra, appeared before an Examing Magistrate in an Athens court after being transferred to the capital, and remained detained.
In Patra, a First Instance Court prosecuto asked she be arrested on grounds that she was otherwise likely to commit further offenses in a case that stunned the nation.
Her daughter, Georgina, died in a hospital, as did the other children her sisters Malena, 3 ½, in 2019 and 6-month-old Iris in 2021, the incidences arousing suspicions of a prosecutor, doctors unable to determine the causes, said the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency ANA.
In a report submitted to the prosecutor handling the case, the Attica Security Directorate said its investigation revealed “that the only person who was in Georgina’s room for the last 20 minutes of her life, before the side effects of the drug started, was her mother,” said Kathimerini.
ANA, citing sources not named, said a police report sent to the public prosecutor found that Georgina consumed a lethal quantity of ketamine that caused her death within 20 minutes at most, during which time she was alone with her mother.
It noted that the last visit to the girl’s ward by either a doctor or nurse was an hour before symptoms of poisoning appeared, while her medical file showed that no quantity of ketamine had been prescribed.
Police also requested medical files from all the hospitals where she had been treated and interviewed all medical personnel monitoring her health, as well as the coroner that carried out the autopsy and found that her death was due to “lethal poisoning by a pharmaceutical substance,” the report added.
It said it was, “Specifically, from the toxicological exams that were carried out on her blood post-mortem, the presence of the pharmaceutical substance ‘ketamine’ was detected in toxic-lethal quantities.”
A POISONOUS TOOL
The crowds outside her home, before she was taken away to Athens by police, changed “Shame! Shame!” and one angry woman told Star TV that if the accused killed the girls that, “She should he hanged,” revealing the growing level of fury.
Developments were in the news for months with wonder how three children could have died in a three-year span and why there hadn’t been any investigation until a prosecutor reportedly became suspicious.
A buzz on social media had been building as officials and homicide detectives began looking into how the children died and the news agency Reuters also reported that posthumous toxicology tests showed she had received ketamine, an anesthetic drug often used in animal surgeries, that had not been prescribed by her treating doctors.
Other media reports said that no doctors nor nurses had administered the substance said to be normally used to sedate cats, nor how it may have been obtained or if it was present in the blood of the other two children.
The mother, who reportedly said she had some training as a nurse, was the only person in the girl’s hospital room regularly and reportedly was familiar with medical terms.
There was no arrest warrant for the father of the three girls, media reports said, although he had boasted that the accused was a good mother.
Star TV said that six milligrams of ketamine per liter was found in the girl’s blood. “A large dose can kill in a few minutes,” Medical Examiner Charalambos Koutsis told reporters, adding that a 7-milligram dose could kill an adult.
In small doses, it can be given as an antidepressant and isn’t available in pharmacies but can be found in veterinary drugstores, no indication whether a prescription is required.
The mother and father as well as their relative had appeared on TV shows to give interviews before the charges were brought.
While no motive was given, social media talk was that the children died each time the woman’s husband had left her.
In a private television interview last month, the suspect criticized news reports that described the three deaths as suspicious.
“I find myself in a position to defend myself against things that are unspeakable… this was a house that was filled with joy,” she said in the Feb. 17 appearance on private Star television. “How could I hurt my own children? I gave birth to them, raised them, and was always with them. It doesn’t make sense.”
In the same interview, the suspect’s husband described her as “a rock” for her children. Police investigators have been granted access to her private online communications.
“The emotional and moral burden of this event surpasses most if not all of us,” government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said, congratulating the police on their work in the monthslong investigation.
“There are no words to express the pain this has caused. This requires considerable thought and reflection.”
(Matterial from Associated Press was used in this report)
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