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French Prosecutor Wants Poisoning Trial in Tainted Blood Case

June 17, 1994

PARIS (AP) _ Health officials already convicted of allowing the use of AIDS-tainted blood should be tried again on the harsher charge of poisoning, public prosecutor Jean Perfetti said Thursday.

The charge of poisoning was sought by relatives of some of the 1,200 French hemophiliacs who received blood in the mid-1980s tainted with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. More than 300 of the victims have died in France’s worst health scandal.

Perfetti set in motion a process that could lead to a criminal court trial. A panel of judges is to rule on his recommendation next week.

Four former health officials were tried in 1992 for knowingly allowing hemophiliacs to receive transfusions of blood that risked carrying HIV.

Michel Garretta, former head of France’s national blood bank, was sentenced to four years in prison. Dr. Jean-Pierre Allain, chief researcher for the National Center for Blood Transfusion, drew a two-year sentence. Two other defendants received suspended sentences.

The hemophiliacs’ families were outraged that the original trial involved only the charge of ″deception related to the basic qualities of a product.″

The trial court said the defendants could have used available techniques to decontaminate the tainted blood or replaced it with untainted stocks.

Perfetti said Thursday, ″I’m not saying that Drs. Allain and Garretta sought to kill people. What they wanted to do was get rid of their stocks, which they knew carried a potentially deadly virus.″

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