PARIS -- An anesthetist in France is accused by police of poisoning 24 patients, killing nine, allegedly in an effort to ruin the reputation of his colleagues because of personal conflicts he had with them, according to authorities.
On Wednesday, the French court of appeals confirmed that Dr. Frederic Pechier, 47, is to remain free under legal supervision while the investigation continues. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.
Pechier denies any implication he was part of the poisonings, according to his lawyer, Randall Schwerdorffer.
The investigation into Pechier began two years ago when seven cases of poisoning were discovered at two French medical clinics in Besancon, a city in Eastern France. Investigators found 17 other "serious adverse events" occurring between October 2008 and December 2016, Besancon police revealed last month.
Pechier became a suspect, according to prosecutors, because he was "the common denominator of these events.” The motive behind the alleged poisonings was Pechier’s personal conflicts with his colleagues, according to prosecutors.
Pechier allegedly polluted the IV bags of 24 of his colleagues’ patients, ranging in ages from four to 80 years old, to cause cardiac arrests, according to authorities.
The cardiac arrests often happened during routine surgeries, Besancon prosecutors said during a press conference last month. One 4-year-old patient, Teddy, suffered two cardiac arrests during a tonsil operation.
Most of Pechier’s alleged victims have formed an association called Avapolvi, headed by Sandra Simard, a 38-year-old woman who spent five days in a coma after a back operation, and still has cognitive after-effects, from what she claims is poisoning by Pechier.