French authorities charged a doctor Thursday with the alleged poisoning of two dozen of his patients, nine of which have died.
Frederic Pechier, 47, faces charges that could lead to a life sentence if he is convicted. He allegedly poisoned 24 patients while working as an anesthesiologist at two different clinics in the French city of Besancon, the AFP news agency reported Friday.
Prosecutors allege he deliberately tampered with his patients’ anesthesia pouches to create emergency medical situations in which he could then step in and revive them, demonstrating his medical proficiency.
Pechier was first charged in 2017 for seven poisoning cases in which two people died. French police brought him in for questioning this week regarding 66 cardiac arrests that affected relatively low risk patients whose operations he was involved with. Seventeen of these cases were identified as poisonings, according to prosecutor Etienne Manteaux, in seven of which the patients have died. The 17 poisoning cases involved victims ranging in age from 4-80 years old. (RELATED: USC Doctor Is Now Facing Sexual Misconduct Allegations)
— FRANCE 24 (@FRANCE24) May 17, 2019
Pechier was “the common denominator” in the recent 17 cases, and “he was most often found close to the operating bloc, when the poisonings occurred, Manteaux said at a press conference. He also noted that Pechier was clashing with colleagues at a clinic during this time.
One of Pechier’s lawyers, Jean-Yves Le Borgne, told reporters Thursday, “There is a possibility that Dr. Pechier was the author of these poisonings but this hypothesis is nothing but a hypothesis and this long inquiry over two years has shown nothing … to the extent that in this instance, the presumption of innocence must be stressed.”
Pechier’s lawyers have reportedly denied the accusations against him and have accused police of altering statements he made during his initial questioning, according to AFP. During questioning this week, Pechier admitted that criminal activity did occur at the Saint-Vincent clinic, but that he was not responsible for it, according to Manteaux.
French authorities conditionally released Pechier from custody Thursday night, according to another of Pechier’s lawyers, Randall Schwerdorffer.
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