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Executives From Breast Implant Company Go To Court For Inserting "Homemade" Recipe In 300,000 Women

Apr 17, 2013 05:10 PM EDT
Jean-Claude Mas
Jean-Claude Mas, founder of French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), sits in the courthouse before the start of the trial of PIP breast implant company in Marseille, April 17, 2013.
(Photo : REUTERS/Philippe Laurenson )

Five executives of the French company Poly Implant Porthese (PIP) went on trial Wednesday for the production of faulty breast implants that triggered a global health scare.

In all, more than 300,000 women throughout the world received the substandard implants between 2001 and 2010: the trial itself includes 5,000 plaintiffs and 300 lawyers.

PIP Chief Executive Jean-Claude Mas admitted the implants were filled with an unapproved "homemade" recipe that made use of industrial-grade silicone, which saved the then third-largest supplier of breast implants an estimated $1.6 million in one year alone, according to investigators.

He and the others, including the chief financial officer, are charged with aggravated fraud and the risk of five years of prison and fines.

According to Reuters, Mas arrived an hour early to the court. The man's lawyer said the former CEO "bears the enormous weight of his trial on his shoulders."

The crowds, Reuters further explained, were not kind.

"Bastard! one women from an audience of some 300 victims shouted when Mas's image was shown on screen.

One woman alleged that her implant began to leak just four years after it was inserted and that she, like the other victims, is scared and angry.

"We had foreign bodies put inside us that were flawed ... we could have maybe died from it," Tomassine Catalano said. "The anger is because we were tricked. It's frightening."

Health experts have said, however, that there has been no link thus far between PIP implants and breast cancer. 

And while Mas admits to the use of the unregulated substance, he affirms he continues to believe it is safe.

However, even if Mas is able to avoid jail in this case, he has yet to go to trial for a case of fiscal fraud also related to the company.

"For 30 years I made prostheses," he told journalists as he was leaving court. "I did my best to protect [women]."

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