Breast implant firm boss arrested
The former head of a French company at the centre of a breast implant scandal affecting tens of thousands of women worldwide has been arrested with his former deputy in south-east France.
Jean-Claude Mas, who founded and ran the now-defunct implant maker Poly Implant Prothese, was detained as part of a judicial investigation in the city of Marseille into manslaughter and involuntary injuries, police said. The company's former No 2 executive, Claude Couty, was also detained, according to an official.
The arrest was made before dawn at a family home in the Mediterranean resort town of Six Fours Les Plages.
Mas, 72, had been believed to be living in the home. His defence lawyer Yves Haddad has denounced the "numerous untruths, nonsense and aberrations" in the case, but said Mas would only speak with authorities.
Mas is expected to face preliminary charges after appearing before an investigating judge in Marseille later. He was being held in the resort town ahead of that anticipated transfer.
Investigating judge Annaick Le Goff opened the probe after a woman in the south-western Gers region filed a lawsuit in the wake of the 2010 death from cancer of her daughter who had received a suspect implant. The case file includes as many as 3,000 other complaints by other alleged victims.
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 had run PIP until the company was closed in March 2010.
Authorities worldwide have been scrambling to strike a proper public response to the scandal, notably concerning who will pay to remove the implants made with cheap, industrial-grade silicone instead of medical-grade gel - or if the implants need to invariably come out.
European governments have taken different positions: German, Czech and French authorities say they should be removed, while Britain says there is not enough evidence of health risks to suggest removal in all cases.
According to estimates by national authorities, over 42,000 women in Britain received the implants, more than 30,000 in France, 9,000 in Australia and 4,000 in Italy. Nearly 25,000 of the implants were sold in Brazil.