18 Apr 2013

Implant trial under way in France

8:53 pm on 18 April 2013

Five people have gone on trial in France over faulty breast implants, which were at the centre of an international health scare last year.

The accused were executives of PIP (Poly Implant Prothese), a company whose implants contained sub-standard silicone gel, causing many implants to rupture.

The sale of faulty implants affected an estimated 300,000 women in 65 countries, and of these more than 4000 women have reported ruptures.

The former head of PIP, Jean-Claude Mas, and members of his management team have been charged with aggravated fraud. They are: deputy head Claude Couty, quality director Hannelore Font, technical director Loic Gossart and products chief Thierry Brinon, the BBC reports.

On Thursday, as Mr Mas shuffled into court he was booed and women reacted with disbelief as the man, said to have made millions from the alleged fraud, told judges he is now living on a pension of €1700 a month.

Mr Mas faces up to five years in prison and a €37,000 fine. But a guilty verdict would open the floodgates to compensation claims worldwide.

With more than 5000 women registered as plaintiffs in the case, the trial has moved to a 700-seat congress centre to accommodate the large numbers of claimants and lawyers and is considered one of the biggest trials in French legal history.

PIP was shut down in March 2010 after non-authorised industrial-grade silicone gel caused abnormally high rupture rates of its implants.