The investigation into this long-running scandal is prompted by
charges filed in November by a Tunisian couple whose son died 14 years
ago. The death of 19-year-old Abdelkader Fradi in Sousse, Tunisia, was
officially blamed on a "cerebral hemorrhage." But the young hemophiliac
had in fact contracted the AIDS virus, a taboo subject in Tunisia, his
According to French news reports, the Sousse hospital that cared for
him used unheated blood products up to 1986, and possibly 1987, coming
from the French company Merieux.
"The parents want to know whether the blood contamination of their
child was due to a non-preventable accident or to bad administration of
the blood products," Francois Honnorat, the Paris lawyer for the Fradis,
told United Press International today.
"We know very well Merieux marketed products that were not tested and
not heated in a number of countries. They recognized it in fact,"
Honnorat fumed. "The problem is the receivers never had sufficient proof
to identify the products."
Merieux now goes by the name of Adventis-Pasteur. Contacted today at
their headquarters in Lyon, company spokesmen would not talk.
"The inquiry marks the first foray into whether a major French blood
scandal may have caused illness and death overseas," UPI reported. "More
than 4,000 people were infected with the AIDS virus in France more than
a decade ago, before tainted blood products were withdrawn. The scandal
implicated major French politicians, leading doctors and Health Ministry
"In 1999, a special court acquitted former French Prime Minister
Laurent Fabius, and the country's former social affairs minister. A
former health minister, Edmond Herve, was convicted but not sentenced.
In July, a French appeals court dismissed another trial implicating 30
people, sparking outrage."
If even the French are finally outraged at their own atrocities, this
one's going to get even uglier.