French judge orders release of breast implant founder
A French judge on Monday ordered the release of the founder of breast implant company PIP, which sparked a global health scare over potentially faulty products, after eight months in preventive detention.
Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) boss Jean-Claude Mas, 73, was ordered released but will be “placed under judicial supervision,” his lawyer Yves Haddad said, adding that he would be freed later Monday.
Mas — who is due to go on trial in April — will have his movements restricted and is barred from meeting Claude Couty, his former right-hand man at the company.
PIP shut down in 2010 after it was revealed to have been using substandard industrial-grade silicone gel.
Between 400,000 and 500,000 women in 65 countries — including 30,000 in France alone — are believed to have implants from PIP, once the world’s third-largest silicone implant producer.
Mas, a former travelling salesman who got his start in the medical business by selling pharmaceuticals, founded PIP in 1991 to take advantage of the booming market for cosmetic implants.
He reportedly told investigators that he used fake business data to fool health inspectors.
Industrial-grade gel was used in 75 percent of PIP breast implants, saving the company about one million euros ($1.3 million) a year, according to a former company executive.
Mas and four other former PIP officials are due to go on trial from April 17 to May 14 next year in a keenly awaited trial that will involve about 180 lawyers and some 4,600 complainants.
French officials have said that cancers, including cases of breast cancer, has been detected in 20 French women with the implants, but have insisted there is no proven link.