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French morgue 'left corpses mutilated'

Clea Caulcutt · 7 Jun 2012, 10:05

Published: 07 Jun 2012 15:18 GMT+02:00
Updated: 07 Jun 2012 10:05 GMT+02:00

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Two medical examiners went on trial on Thursday in the town of Lens in the north of France. Several families accuse the officials of mutulating and not sewing up the corpses of their loved ones. 

"It was as if a wild beast had attacked a human body, nothing had been sewn back together," says Hervé Louvrié, a former fireman, in an interview with radio Europe 1. "The events that took place in the morgue at the Lens hospital were simply barbaric, there’s no other word for it."

When Louvrié’s wife Betty  committed suicide in 2008, her body was sent to the Lens morgue for an autopsy. Lens medical examiners confirmed that Betty had committed suicide. But when Louvrié wanted to see his wife for the last time, he wasn’t allowed to. The coffin had been sealed. 

At the funeral parlour, officials were embarassed. When they finally opened the coffin, the body was, according to Louvrié, in "several parts". 

Other families say they were never able to confirm the identities of the loved ones they were burying. Following the autopsy, the remains of their relatives were sent to the funeral parlour in sealed coffins.

The lawyer Philippe Missamou represents the plaintiffs and says irregularities have been going on for years. Autopsies can leave a corpse in very bad condition. Missamou suspects the medical exminers in Lens didn’t sew corpses up after autopsies to save money and time. 

On trial since Thursday, the medical examiners risk up to ten years in prison.

Clea Caulcutt (news.france@thelocal.com)

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