A Spanish chef has been accused of trying to poison ten of his co-workers by adding a drug to staff meals which can prove deadly when mixed with alcohol. The 55-year-old, who has not been named, has been charged with 14 counts of attempted murder while working at a restaurant in the coastal city of Gijon, over a period of six years.
He is also under suspicion of causing the fatal heart attack of the former head chef who died in May 2011. Staff at the El Lavaderu bar and restaurant, where the man worked as an assistant chef for seven years, reported him to police late last year after the found they were repeatedly falling ill. Another chef has been taken to hospital three times in the past year with other kitchen workers routinely calling in sick.
The only staff who were reported not to be affected were the assistant cook and his girlfriend, who also worked there. The previous owner of the restaurant suffered a heart attack and his wife suffered repeated and mysterious bouts of ill-heath. Both fully recovered after selling the establishment last year. Police discovered traces of calcium cyanamide, a chemical used to treat chronic alcoholism, on plates used by workers.
Calcium cyanamide provokes nausea, dizziness and palpitations. If mixed with alcohol it can have fatal results if taken lover a long period. Police, who suspect a motive driven by 'rancour', are now re-examining the death of the former head cook who died and are considering exhuming his body to check for traces of calcium cyanamide.
There have been reports of frequent arguments in the kitchen. The man was charged earlier this month and remanded in custody pending a judicial investigation.