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CRIME

French surgeon tried to sell Bataclan victim’s X-ray

A senior French surgeon faces legal action and a possible disciplinary charge after attempting to sell an X-ray of a concert-goer who was shot during the 2015 attack on the Bataclan music hall in Paris.

French surgeon tried to sell Bataclan victim's X-ray
The 2015 terror attack on the Bataclan nightclub saw 137 people killed and 416 injured. Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP

Orthopedic surgeon Emmanuel Masmejean, who practices at the Georges Pompidou public hospital in southwest Paris, was first reported by the Mediapart website on Saturday to be selling an image of the X-Ray as a digital artwork, without the patient’s consent.

The picture shows a forearm containing a Kalashnikov bullet and was on sale for 2,776 dollars (2,446 euros) on the OpenSea website, which specialises in so-called NFT digital images.

The head of Paris’s public hospitals, Martin Hirsch, wrote on Twitter on Saturday confirming that a criminal and professional complaint would be lodged against the surgeon for his “disgraceful” and “scandalous” decision.

“This act is contrary to sound professional practice, puts medical secrecy in danger, and goes against the values of AP-HP (Paris hospitals) and public service,” Hirsch wrote in a message sent to staff, which he shared on Twitter.

Asked for comment by Mediapart, Masmejean acknowledged that the sale was “an error” and said he regretted not having sought permission from the patient. She is not identified, but is described as a young woman whose boyfriend was killed in the Bataclan attack, which was part of a wave of shootings and bomb attacks in the French capital by Islamic State gunmen who claimed 130 lives. 

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According to Masmejean’s description on OpenSea, the patient “had an open fracture of the left forearm with a remaining bullet of Kalachnikov in soft tissues.”

The experienced surgeon, who is a professor of surgery and a specialist in treating arm injuries, wrote that he had personally operated on five female victims at the Bataclan. He told Mediapart that he had withdrawn the sale, but the image was still visible on Sunday.

OpenSea is specialised in selling NFTs, which stands for non-fungible tokens.

Using the blockchain technology behind cryptocurrencies, NFTs are digital artworks that cannot be duplicated. They burst into the mainstream last year and are now traded at major auction houses, generating several hundred million dollars in transactions every month.

Some have sold for millions, including an NFT by digital artist Beeple which went under the hammer at Christie’s in March last year for an eye-watering $69.3 million.

The first SMS ever sent over a mobile phone in 1992 was sold in December as an NFT at a Paris auction for 107,000 euros ($120,600).

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POLICE

French pensioner pushed out of 17th-floor window ‘may have been victim of anti-Semitic attack’

An 89-year-old man who was pushed out of his 17th-storey window by a neighbour may have been killed because he was Jewish, a prosecutor said on Friday, after several shocking anti-Semitic murders in France in recent years.

French pensioner pushed out of 17th-floor window 'may have been victim of anti-Semitic attack'

The victim’s body was found at the foot of his building in Lyon, southeast France, on May 17th and the 51-year-old neighbour was arrested. But investigators did not initially charge him with a racist crime.

Last Sunday, the BNVCA anti-Semitism watchdog group said it would seek to be a plaintiff in the case, citing its similarity with the 2017 murder of Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old thrown from her window in a case that sparked national outcry.

“After social media postings were provided to us, the prosector’s office has asked judges to consider the aggravating circumstance of an act committed because of the victim’s ethnicity, nationality, race or religion,” Lyon prosecutor Nicolas Jacquet told AFP.

He did not provide examples of the posts, but Gilles-William Goldnadel, a lawyer and commentator for CNews television, said on Wednesday on Twitter that the suspect had called out Goldnabel in messages, including one that told him to “remember your origins.”

“It’s no longer a question of telling us it’s the act of a mentally disturbed person. The truth of anti-Semitism must no longer be hidden,” Goldnadel wrote.

France has grappled with a sharp rise in violence targeting its roughly 500,000 Jews, the largest community in Europe, in addition to jihadist attacks in recent years.

The murder of Halimi drew particular outrage after the killer, who had shouted “Allahu akbar” (“God is greatest” in Arabic), avoided trial because a judge determined he was under the influence of drugs and not criminally responsible.

That prompted President Emmanuel Macron to seek a law change to ensure people face responsibility for violent crimes while under the influence of drugs, which was adopted in December 2021.

In 2018, 85-year-old Mireille Knoll was brutally stabbed in an attack by two men said to have been looking for “hidden treasures” in her Paris apartment.

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