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8 Jun, 2021 17:39

Former French university chief charged over rotting bodies scandal involving donated corpses at Paris university

Former French university chief charged over rotting bodies scandal involving donated corpses at Paris university

The former president of the renowned Paris-Descartes University has been charged over a scandal in which dozens of bodies donated for research were stored in appalling conditions in the center of the French capital.

Frederic Dardel, who headed the institution from 2012-2019, was charged on Friday with “desecrating a corpse,” his lawyer Marie-Alix Canu-Bernard has confirmed.

The government shut down the university’s Center for Body Donations in 2019 after disturbing details about the storage of cadavers were published by weekly French news magazine, L’Express, earlier that year.

The publication said “thousands” of sets of human remains had been stored at the Rene-Descartes faculty for “decades,” describing the scene as a “mass grave in the heart of Paris.”

Photos handed to L’Express reportedly showed dozens of bodies that were kept “naked, dismembered, with open eyes, piled up on stretchers,” with some in a state of decomposition while others had been chewed by mice.

Canu-Bernard said that, during his tenure, Dardel had called for more government funding to fix a string of problems with the site’s cold storage facilities that were said to have been reported to him by a surgeon.

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A list of issues that “did not comply with legal obligations” included cold rooms that weren’t hermetically sealed, faulty equipment, a lack of ventilation and blocked drains, according to the L’Express article.

Canu-Bernard blamed the poor conditions at the site on the government and said Dardel “never stopped lobbying for grants.”

In June, the government found that “serious ethical breaches” had taken place at the center, which was founded in 1953.

Despite being intended for use in academic research, some donated bodies were reportedly being sold at €900 ($1,100) each to private companies for purposes such as car crash tests.

AFP reported that two lab assistants have also been charged with desecrating a corpse.

The Association Charnier Paris-Descartes, which represents relatives of people who donated their bodies to the center, has welcomed the charges against Dardel.

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