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Jean-Claude Mas Selling Substandard Breast Implants Was Arrested

27.01.2012 05:40 EST
Jean-Claude Mas, the Frenchman who sparked a global health scare by selling substandard breast implants, was arrested on Thursday as Marseille prosecutors build a case against him for manslaughter. In the first arrests since the two-year-old scandal made headlines worldwide in Dec, Mas and a second executive at his now defunct company Poly Implant Prothese were seized at theirhomes in southern France shortly after dawn. The detention could lead within hours to Mas being placed under formal investigation on suspicion of manslaughter andcausing bodily harm. That could in due course lead to criminal charges, which would carry longer sentences than those he now faces in a fraudcase expected to be tried around October.
Women who have been campaigning against PIP since French authorities banned its products nearly two years ago welcomed the move as giving them a sense that the law was now in action: “It’s been too long,” said Murielle Ajellio, who heads an association for women with implants. Up to now, she said: “You feel like you’re fighting against the wind.”
French authorities have been criticized for being slow to react to a case that has sownfear among tens of thousandsof women who carry PIP implants. French inspectors ordered them off the market in March 2010, due to concerns over their quality.
But only last month did officials in Paris recommend their surgical removal, drawing attention to the problem for patients worldwide who had been fittedwith products from the company, which was at one time the third biggest global supplier.
Lawyers for women in France who have filed complaints over PIP implants welcomed the arrests and said there must be no escaping justice for the 72-year-old Mas, whohas been quoted as deriding those suing him as being motivated only by money.
“This is a comfort for the victims,” said Laurent Gaudon, whose clients are pursuing PIP and surgeons who used its implants for 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 1,300 people with PIP implants, said Mas should not be freed pending any trial.
Mas and PIP’s former chief executive Claude Couty were questioned at home, as police conducted searches. They were then moved to police custody in the Mediterranean port city of Marseille, under the orders of prosecutor Jacques Dallest.

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