PIP implants scandal: Victims at trial opening

Large crowds assembled as the former head of PIP, Jean-Claude Mas, arrived at court

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Hundreds of women have attended the opening of the trial in France of five executives of a firm which supplied thousands of faulty breast implants.

PIP founder Jean-Claude Mas was booed in court in Marseille. He and four members of his management team are charged with aggravated fraud.

The sale of faulty implants caused a global health scare with an estimated 300,000 women in 65 countries affected.

The company used sub-standard silicone gel, causing many implants to rupture.

With more than 5,000 women registered as plaintiffs in the case, the trial has moved to a 700-seat congress centre to accommodate the large numbers of claimants and lawyers.

It is considered one of the biggest trials in French legal history.

Angela Mauro, a 47-year-old plaintiff whose implants ruptured twice, said she hoped the court would treat the women with the same respect accorded other victims of medical malpractice.

"I expect us to be considered as victims and not just as women who wanted implants," Ms Mauro told AFP.

The implant manufacturer, PIP (Poly Implant Prothese), was shut down in March 2010 after non-authorised industrial-grade silicone gel caused abnormally high rupture rates of its implants, sparking a worldwide health scare.

PIP implants scandal in numbers

  • More than 300,000 women affected in 65 countries
  • 4,000 reported ruptures
  • PIP exported 80% of its implants, with half going to Latin America
  • 42,000 British, 25,000 Brazilian, 15,000 Colombian, 30,000 French, 16,000 Venezuelan women received PIP implants
  • 15,000 French women have had their PIP implants removed under instruction from the government
  • 5,000 women registered as plaintiffs in the PIP trial

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

PIP was considered one of the world's leading suppliers of implants with over 42,000 women in Britain receiving the implants, more than 30,000 in France, 25,000 in Brazil and 15,000 in Colombia, according to government statistics.

Mr Mas is on trial with his deputy Claude Couty, quality director Hannelore Font, technical director Loic Gossart and products chief Thierry Brinon.

If convicted, they could face up to five years in prison.

The trial is expected to last until 17 May.

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