French breast implant company head charged

Former head of company at the centre of health scare affecting women worldwide charged with "involuntary injury".

    French officials have charged Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of the PIP breast implant company that sparked a global health scare, with "involuntary injury", his lawyer said.

    Mas, arrested on Thursday in a manslaughter probe into the company from whom more than 400,000 women worldwide are believed to have received substandard implants, was released on 100,000-euro bail, the lawyer Yves Haddad said on Friday.

    On Thursday, Mas answered "hundreds of questions," Haddad said, adding the 72-year-old was "very cooperative" and outlined the responsibilities of all company officials and his links with suppliers.

    Police in southeastern France arrested the former head of the French company at his residence in the Mediterranean coastal town of Six Fours Les Plages shortly before dawn.

    A second PIP executive, former chief financial officer Claude Couty, was also arrested under an investigation that was opened in the southern port city of Marseille, close to PIP's former premises, on December 8.

    Arrests welcomed

    Lawyers for women who have filed complaints in connection with the implants have hailed the news of the arrest as positive.

    "This is a comfort for the victims," said Laurent Gaudon, whose clients accuse PIP and surgeons who used its implants of fraud.

    "It's the feeling that justice is advancing and they have not been forgotten. It's the assurance that the guilty are at last going to be held accountable."

    Philippe Courtois, who represents a group of 1,300 people with PIP implants, said it was vital Mas was not allowed to flee justice.

    "A degree of provisionary detention is desirable," he said.

    The implants were pulled from the market in several countries in and beyond Europe amid fears they could rupture and leak silicone into the body.

    The investigation came after the death from cancer in 2010 of a woman with PIP implants, although health authorities in France and other countries have stressed that there is no proven link between the implants and cancer.

    In a separate development on Wednesday, health authorities in Brazil said that the government will be fining private health plans that refuse to pay for the removal and replacement of the faulty implants sold by PIP and a Dutch company.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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