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6 acquitted in French trial over hormone deaths

 Doctor Ferdinand Dray, centre, leaves a Paris courthouse after a court acquitted six people, including Dray, Wednesday Jan. 14, 2009, over the deaths...
 Michele Jolivet, right, who lost her son Emmanuel, is comforted as she cries at the courthouse, after a Paris court acquitted six people Wednesday, J...

FRANCE HORMONE TRIAL

Doctor Ferdinand Dray, centre, leaves a Paris courthouse after a court acquitted six people, including Dray, Wednesday Jan. 14, 2009, over the deaths...

FRANCE HORMONE TRIAL

Michele Jolivet, right, who lost her son Emmanuel, is comforted as she cries at the courthouse, after a Paris court acquitted six people Wednesday, J...

A French court acquitted six doctors and pharmacists Wednesday in the deaths of at least 114 people who contracted a brain-destroying disease after being treated with tainted human growth hormones.
Families of victims, many of whom were children, stared in stunned silence when the verdict was announced in the crowded Paris courtroom.
The verdict followed a laborious 16-year investigation into the deaths from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or CJD. The cases did not involve the widely known "Mad Cow" variant of CJD.
The Paris court acquitted the six doctors and pharmacists of manslaughter and aggravated deception, among other charges, in the verdict.
"It is a judicially absurd and socially dangerous ruling," said Francois Honnorat, a lawyer for some of the victims.
Jeanne Goerrian, president of a victims' association, called it a "scandal," denouncing "those all-powerful people who take the law into their own hands and kill ... and escape all punishment." She urged an appeal.
The case stemmed from a 20-year program that involved collecting hormones from the pituitary glands of human corpses to treat thousands of French children who suffered from a deficiency in the secretion of growth hormone. The program ended in 1988.
The court, in its ruling, said the investigation "did not provide confirmation" that the pediatricians, biologists and pharmacists who helped make and distribute the growth hormone were aware in 1980 that it posed a risk of contamination.
The public prosecutor had asked for a four-year suspended sentence for one of the pharmacists, a two-year suspended sentence for another, and a one-year suspended sentence for one of the doctors.
The prosecutor had sought the acquittal of the three other defendants, saying investigators had failed to establish their responsibility in the case.
Defense lawyers welcomed the ruling. "Just because there is pain does not mean there is a crime," said lawyer Benoit Chabert.


Updated : 2021-06-13 07:44 GMT+08:00