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French doctor accused of poisoning 24 patients released pending trial

media Frederic Pechier leaving a court hearing in March 2017 in Besancon Sebastien Bozon/AFP

A French anaesthesiologist, accused of poisoning 24 patients during surgical procedures, has been released from detention and will be under judicial supervision until his trial, which has not yet been set. Prosecutors had asked for him to be held in provisional detention.

The appeals court in Besançon upheld a lower court’s ruling to allow Federic Péchier to continue living under judicial control, as he has been since March 2017 when he was first indicted.

Péchier is accused of having tampered with the pouches of intravenous fluids administered to 24 patients between 2008 and 2017. The patients, aged four to 80-years-old, suffered heart attacks – nine of which resulted in death. 

Prosecutors argue that Péchier provoked the attacks so he could intervene and display his skills, allegedly to discredit his colleagues, with whom he was in conflict.

Péchier's legal defence team says there is no evidence that the patients’ cardiac arrests had anything criminal about them. Prosecutors say that the accused is the only thing in common with all the cases.

As part of the judicial supervision, Péchier is not allowed to practice medicine, nor is he allowed to go to the city of Besançon or the neighbouring city where he lived. He currently lives with his parents near Poitiers.

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