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France's fugitive dentist captured in Canada

Ben McPartland · 4 Sep 2014, 16:00

Published: 04 Sep 2014 16:00 GMT+02:00

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Rogue dentist Mark van Nierop, 49, was wanted on charges of “violence causing mutilation” and fraud after allegedly butchering the mouths of scores of his unfortunate patients in France.

An international arrest warrant was issued for him in December last year and on Monday police finally tracked him down to the tiny village of Nackawic, News Brunswick, where he has been hiding out in recent months. It is not clear who alerted authorities in Canada to Van Nierop's whereabouts.

Several residents from the hamlet contacted The Local this week to report his arrest 

According to those who witnessed the arrest, Van Nierop tried to take his own life by cutting his own throat when he realized police had tracked him down, but this has not been confirmed by authorities in Canada.

It is believed he is still in hospital recovering.

(The story of Mark Van Nierop made headlines in France. Here's Le Parisien headline.)

Residents in the small village reacted with shock when they realised the true identity of Van Nierop and his murky past.

“Everyone was shocked to hear that he was arrested,” one neighbour told The Local. “I've seen him all summer hanging out on the front steps of the building...he went by the same name here as he did at home. I guess he thought no one would ever find him here.

On the arrest the neighbour said: “There was a trail of blood in the hallway of our building. He cut himself really bad. It’s horrifying. Everyone is in shock. All the folks in town are talking about it.

"No one had any clue. He was dating someone from the local community. Other than his obvious accent, he seemed pretty average.

"Everyone is wondering how he managed to slip into Canada with no one the wiser," the neighbour said.

News of the arrest will be a relief to his many victims.

The dentist, whose real name is Jacobus Marinus Van Nierop, was heralded as the messiah when he set up in Château-Chinon in Burgundy in 2008, due to the lack of dentists in the region.

But six years later, the uttering of his name, would no doubt send shivers down the spines of many of his patients, some of whom suffered from recurring abscesses and septicaemia after visiting him in his clinic.

There were also allegations of badly placed implants that pierced patients’ jaws, healthy teeth being pulled out, and parts of broken utensils being left lodged in gums, French newspaper Le Parisien reported.

As many as 2,800 patients could have been victims of the dentist’s negligence, Le Parisien claimed.

Story continues below…

Van Nierop’s only motivation appears to have been money, rather than the care of his patients, all of whom were advised to undergo blood tests for HIV and Hepatitis C.

“I have lost part of my jaw and I realised that he charged me for 19 treatments in just one session. It’s a monster of a financial scam,” one patient told Europe1 radio.

After numerous complaints from patients who were left “maimed” police opened a probe into Van Nierop in May last year.

Around 120 of victims have formed a collective and have been pressuring health authorities in France to explain how the dentist, who had been in trouble with authorities in the Netherlands, was able to practice in France. 

Asked to confirm Van Nierop's arrest Jennifer Morrison from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) told The Local: "It is not a practice of the CBSA to confirm/deny whether a person has been arrested and/or is under investigation."

On Thursday the prosecutor's office in Bourges confirmed to The Local that Van Nierop had been held in Canada and added the government will seek to have him extradited to France to face prosecution.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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