Th trial of top five executives of the breast implant company which was forced to close down for using substandard silicone gel opened in southern French city of Marseille on Wednesday.
The former head of the now-defunct French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) Jean-Claude Mas, his deputy Claude Couty, quality control director Hannelore Font, technical director Loic Gossart and products director Thierry Brinon stand trial on charge of aggravated fraud.
If found guilty in the trial, which is expected to last until May 17, the top PIP management team could be punished for five years' imprisonment.
Many of more than 5000 women who have filed complaint against the defendants are expected to attend the trial, being held at the Congress center, a makeshift courthouse.
Faulty silicone breast implants made by PIP had triggered health concerns among tens of thousands of women worldwide, mostly in Europe.
An investigation warranted by an unusually high short-term breast implant rupture rate has revealed that PIP fraudulently made use of industrial silicone instead of the approved medical grade one. The product was withdrawn from the EU market in 2010 in the wake of the death from cancer of a woman who had received a suspect implant.
Mas was arrested in January 2012 in Marseille as part of a judicial investigation on the charge of causing involuntary injuries. He was later released on bail and banned from leaving the country and from meeting former PIP executives.
Following the publication of a report on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) on the safety of silicone products manufactured by PIP, the European Commission had asked its Scientific Committee to conduct a more in-depth investigation based on data from Member-States on the potential health impact of faulty breast implants.
by RTT Staff Writer
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