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French breast implant boss freed awaiting trial

Reuters/Jean-Paul Pelissier

A French judge has freed the founder of breast implant company PIP, which is at the centre of a global health scare over potentially faulty products. But Jean-Claude Mas will face trial next April in a case involving 180 lawyers and nearly 5,000 plaintiffs.

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After spending eight months in preventive detention Mas has been placed under judicial supervision but released from the prison in Pontet in Provence, southern France.

His detention was due to end next Sunday but judge Pierre Philipon brought his release forward by a few days.

Mas's lawyer, Yves Haddad, expressed relief at the decision.

“It would be arrogant to say we’re satisfied in view of the victims' suffering - I say victims even nothing has been determined for the moment,” he told RFI. “But we’re relieved to see that a 74-year-old man held in preventive detention does not have a place in prison and has been released under judicial supervision.”

Mas will required to check in at his local police station once a week, remain within certain territorial limits, and not engage in professional activities, such as managing a company, Haddad pointed out.

Mas and four other former PIP officials are due to go on trial in April next year in a keenly awaited trial that will involve about some 4,600 plaintiffs, the vast majority from France.

Between 400,000 and 500,000 women in 65 countries, 30,000 in France alone, are believed to have implants from PIP, once the world's third-largest silicone implant producer.

French officials have said that cancers, including cases of breast cancer, have been detected in 20 French women with the implants but have insisted there is no proven link.

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