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Boss of breast implant firm charged

French authorities have filed preliminary charges against the former head of a now-defunct company embroiled in a scandal over potentially faulty breast implants affecting thousands of women.

A lawyer for Jean-Claude Mas said a judge in the city of Marseille placed the Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) company founder under investigation for "involuntary injury".

Mas, who was arrested on Thursday, was released on 100,000 euro (£83,000) bail. Defence lawyer Yves Haddad also said that an investigating magistrate has ordered Mas, 72, to stay in France and not meet any other former PIP executives.

The preliminary charges give investigating magistrates more time to probe to decide whether to recommend the case goes to trial.

The suspect PIP implants have been removed from the marketplace in several countries in and beyond Europe amid fears that they could rupture and leak silicone into the body.

Mas was arrested at his residence in a Mediterranean coastal resort town as part of a judicial investigation into manslaughter and involuntary injury. PIP's former number two, Claude Couty, was also detained.

Police investigators searched the Mas residence and held him for questioning for seven hours before he was transferred to appear before investigating judge Annaick Le Goff at a Marseille court. Mas did not speak to reporters after being released on bail.

"Mr Mas was finally able to express himself before the judge. He is relieved to have been able to do so," Mr Haddad said. "The magistrate judged that for now there's no reason to charge him for manslaughter because for the moment, there's no sign of evidence of this crime."

On a sole charge of involuntary injury, Mas faces up to a year in prison if convicted. That is not sufficient to allow Ms Le Goff to order him held in custody before trial.

The arrests ended weeks of speculation about whether investigators would be able to assemble enough evidence to detain Mas - whose location was known to authorities - or any other possible suspects on legal grounds.

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