French HIV-blood case thrown out
PARIS, France -- A planned trial of 30 defendants involved in an AIDS tainted blood scandal that rocked France has been thrown out.
The ruling by the French appeals court stunned the families of victims, who were infected or died after receiving HIV-infected blood transfusions.
More than 4,000 people were infected with the AIDS virus during the mid-1980s before the tainted products were withdrawn. Hundreds of the victims have died and many were haemophiliacs dependent on transfusions to survive.
Prosecutors have five days to appeal against the decision made on Thursday by the Appeals court's investigating branch.
Joelle Boucher, whose son contracted AIDS after being contaminated during a transfusion, told The Associated Press. "It's an amnesty. There is no justice."
Francois Honnorat, a lawyer representing victims in the case, added the ruling meant "we can throw all public health cases ... in the garbage can."
Doctors and Health Ministry advisers were among the 30 people involved in the case.
Seven faced criminal charges ranging from complicity to poison to voluntary violence. The remaining 23 were being investigated for lesser offences.
All were implicated for allegedly having prescribed or distributed blood products contaminated with the HIV virus.
In 1999, a special court acquitted former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius and Social Affairs Minister Georgina Dufoix on charges of manslaughter in connection with the scandal.
Former Health Minister Edmond Herve was convicted but not given a penalty.
The former head of the National Blood Transfusion Centre, Dr. Michel Garretta, was jailed for his involvement in the scandal.
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