PIP manufacturer denies fraud in breast implant trial
Lawyers for the French manufacturer PIP, whose faulty breast implants caused a global health scare, used the final day of a fraud trial to deny wrongdoing on Friday as the court said it would deliver a verdict in December.
Lawyers for the founder of French firm PIP whose faulty breast implants sparked a global health scare denied wrongdoing Friday as the court said it would deliver a verdict in December.
In closing arguments, the defence called for a lighter sentence than the four-years imprisonment requested by prosecutors.
Judge Claude Veillard said the ruling would be made on December 10.
The month-long trial in Marseille saw prosecutor Jacques Dallest also calling for PIP founder Jean-Claude Mas to pay a 100,000 euro ($130,000) fine and to be banned from working in medical services or from running a company.
Five PIP executives are on trial in the case including the 73-year-old Mas, charged with aggravated fraud for using industrial-grade silicone in implants.
The others on trial are PIP's former general manager Claude Couty, quality control director Hannelore Font, technical director Loic Gossart and product director Thierry Brinon.
The prosecutor called for prison terms of between six months and two years for the other defendants.
Mas, speaking in court to his four co-accused, said he regretted "the manner in which PIP had to wind up."
"A large percentage of the victims had NuSil gel (which is made by a California company which can be used in medical applications) in their implants," he said. Mas reiterated that the gel used by his company was "not toxic or dangerous."
"You see that all the tests say that they are not at all dangerous," said Mas's lawyer Yves Haddad, referring to results of tests he furnished to the court.
They were conducted by the independent laboratory LEMI (Laboratory in charge of Evaluating Implant Materials).
"About 50 tests were conducted between 2002 until 2008. I am not saying this to defend Mr Mas, I am saying this for you," Haddad said, referring to the victims.
News of the faulty implants in 2011 sparked fears worldwide, but health officials in various countries have said they were not toxic and did not increase the risk of breast cancer.
More than 4,000 women have reported ruptures in the implants and in France alone 15,000 have had the PIP implants replaced.
Hundreds of the victims, as well as some 300 lawyers, attended the trial in the southern port city of Marseille, near PIP's former headquarters.
Mas, a former travelling salesman who got his start in the medical business by selling pharmaceuticals, founded PIP in 1991 to take advantage of the booming market for cosmetic implants.
He built the company into the third-largest global supplier of implants, but came under the spotlight when plastic surgeons began reporting an unusual number of ruptures in his products.
Health authorities later discovered he was saving millions of euros by allegedly using industrial-grade gel in 75 percent of the implants. PIP's implants were banned and the company eventually liquidated.
Some of the defendants, including Mas, have also been charged in separate and ongoing manslaughter and financial fraud investigations into the scandal.
The manslaughter probe is related to the suspicious 2010 death from cancer of a woman who was fitted with the implants.
PIP had exported more than 80 percent of its implants, with about half going to Latin America, about a third to other countries in western Europe, about 10 percent to eastern Europe and the rest to the Middle East and Asia.