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21 May, 2020 10:00

French care homes face manslaughter investigation: Victims’ lawyer tells RT details of ‘scandal amid epidemic’

French care homes face manslaughter investigation: Victims’ lawyer tells RT details of ‘scandal amid epidemic’

Relatives of elderly people who didn’t survive the Covid-19 epidemic in France’s care homes want management to be held accountable for what they say was inaction and a cover-up that saw their loved ones die, their lawyer told RT.

Several French retirees, with some as old as 96, died in nursing homes in Chaville, Clamart and Clichy-la-Garenne back in March and April, amidst the coronavirus epidemic that is still blighting France. Now, their families have rolled out a criminal lawsuit against the care facilities. According to local media citing an announcement by the public prosecutor’s office, investigators will now inquire if there was any sign of such crimes as “manslaughter,” “failure to assist a person in danger” and “endangering the life of others.”

In the lawsuit, relatives said they noticed “deterioration in the conditions of care” earlier this year and sounded alarm about the lack of basic protective equipment such as masks and gloves – apparently to no avail.

Lawyer Fabien Arakelian, who represents the plaintiffs, revealed details of the legal action, telling RT they also accuse caregivers of being appallingly slow to test and safeguard the elderly.

Their outrage centers on the “absence or insufficient application of safety rules as well as [Covid-19] tests absent or carried out too late,” he explained. On some occasions, they allege, the care facilities were
“concealing information,” meaning that families were kept in the dark about their loved ones’ health status.

The fatalities were not isolated incidents but “some kind of systemic failure,” it seems. While the lawsuit is against the management of the nursing homes affected as well as the regional health authorities, its scope may be far wider, the lawyer said.

It is necessary that justice be done and that light be shed on this case, which, frankly, is a healthcare scandal amid the epidemic crisis.

Arakelian spoke shortly after French prosecutors opened inquiries into the nursing homes located in the department of Hauts-de-Seine, the western inner suburbs of Paris.

The news comes on the heels of the Health Ministry reporting this Tuesday of 110 new fatalities at hospitals and care homes for the elderly, as France’s coronavirus death toll surged beyond 28,000.

Also on rt.com 'They have been LYING from the start,' lawyer tells RT as medics sue French PM, ex-minister over Covid-19 inaction

This is not the first legal action related to how the novel coronavirus has been handled in France. In March, French doctors sought the prosecution of Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and ex-Minister of Solidarity and Health Agnes Buzyn for negligence and inability to act in the face of the Covid-19 crisis, which pushed the healthcare system to its limits.

“At some point the truth needs to be told, which is that these people have been lying to us from the start,” their lawyer, Fabrice di Vizio, told RT at the time.

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