A Spanish chef has been charged with trying to poison 10 of his fellow cooks over a six-year period by secretly adding toxic drugs to staff food.
The unnamed 55-year-old assistant cook, who worked at El Lavaderu bar and restaurant in the coastal city of Gijon in northern Spain for seven years, is accused of 14 counts of attempted murder and is being held in custody awaiting trial.
His kitchen colleagues phoned police in October last year when they became suspicious after repeatedly falling ill. The only people at the cider house not to share symptoms were the suspect and his girlfriend, who also worked there.
Officers tested plates used for staff meals and found traces of calcium cyanamide, a potent chemical used to treat chronic alcoholism, the Daily Telegraph reported. It causes sickness and palpitations if mixed with alcohol and can have fatal results if taken long-term.
They are also re-examining the death of the former head chef who died from a heart attack in May 2011, and may exhume his body to see if there are traces of calcium cyanamide.
The previous owner also suffered a heart attack before selling the premises last year, and his wife suffered mysterious bouts of ill-heath. Both recovered after leaving the business.
Another chef has been to hospital three times over the last year and several other kitchen workers have frequently called in sick.
Police said they suspected "rancour" was the motive after reports there had been frequent arguments in the kitchen.
The current owner, Florentino Pérez, told Europa Press he also suffered from the poisonings but never imagined the suspect was responsible.
"People loved him," he said, adding that the chef had been involved in a number of charities in the city. He confirmed the suspect, who suffered from alcoholism, was fired a month before he was arrested, but said that was due to a slump in business.