French doctor suspected in 17 more poisoning cases

Doctor already being probed for poisoning seven patients is being investigated over the poisoning of 17 more people at a clinic in east France.

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A French doctor already under investigation for poisoning seven patients has been charged* with poisoning 17 more people at a clinic in eastern France, one of his lawyers said on Thursday, reports FRANCE 24.

Frédéric Pechier, 47, now stands charged in 24 cases, nine of which resulted in death, after working as an anaesthesiologist at two private clinics in the eastern French city of Besançon. 

Earlier this week, he was questioned by police about 66 more suspicious cases of cardiac arrest during operations on patients aged four to 80 who had been considered low risk for such incidents.

If convicted, Pechier could face a life sentence.

A source close to the investigation said he would go before a judge later Thursday to determine whether he should be held in custody, as demanded by prosecutors.

Pechier's lawyer Jean-Yves Le Borgne said the investigation had proved nothing.

Read more of this report from FRANCE 24.

*Editor's note: Under a change to the French legal system introduced in 1993, a magistrate can decide a suspect should be 'placed under investigation' (mis en examen), which is a status one step short of being charged (inculpé), if there is 'serious or concordant' evidence that they committed a crime. Some English-language media describe this status, peculiar to French criminal law, as that of being charged. In fact, it is only at the end of an investigation that a decision can be made to bring charges, in which case the accused is automatically sent for trial.


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