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Breast implant firm denies fraud over faulty implants

Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of PIP, arrives in court on the trial's opening day on 17 April.
Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of PIP, arrives in court on the trial's opening day on 17 April. Reuters/Philippe Laurenson

Lawyers for the French breast implant firm PIP have used the final day of a fraud trial to deny knowingly making faulty implants. The incident sparked health scare affecting thousands of women around the world.

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In closing arguments at the court in Marseille, lawyers for the five PIP executives on trial defended the implants’ safety, and called for lighter sentences than the four years of jail requested by prosecutors.

The trial, once of France's biggest legal proceedings in recent history, began in April.

The defendants, including PIP founder Jean-Claude Mas, are accused of aggravated fraud for using cheap, industrial-grade silicone in breast implants for 10 years.

The defendants are:

  • PIP founder Jean-Clade Mas;
  • Chair of the board of directors Claude Couty;
  • Director of production manager Loïc Gossart;
  • Technical director Thierry Brinon;
  • Quality director Hannelore Font.
     

Mas told the court he regretted "the manner in which PIP had to wind up."

"A large percentage of the victims had NuSil gel (a medical-grade gel made by a Californian company) 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' lawyer Yves Haddad, referring to tests conducted by an independent laboratory.

News of the faulty implants broke in 2011 when doctors began reporting an unusual number of ruptures in PIP implants. But health officials in various countries have said the implants were not toxic, nor did they increase the risk of breast cancer.

More than 4,000 women reported ruptures, and in France alone, 15,000 women have had the PIP implants replaced.

PIP implants were soon banned and the company, once the third-largest global supplier of implants, was quickly wound up.

More than 5,200 women joined the class action suit, including around 220 women from overseas.

The month-long trial saw prosecutor Jacques Dallest call for Mas to pay a 100,000 euro fine and to be banned from working in medical services or from running a company.

Some of the defendants, including Mas, have also been charged in separate and ongoing manslaughter and financial fraud investigations into the scandal.

The court is due to deliver its verdict on 10 December.

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