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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 February 2006, 00:56 GMT
Canada tainted blood trial opens
Blood bag
The Red Cross has apologised to the victims and their families
Three public health officials have gone on trial in Canada in connection with one of the country's biggest ever medical scandals.

The officials pleaded not guilty to charges relating to the infection of more than 1,000 people with HIV in the 1980s and 1990s.

Another 20,000 contracted hepatitis C after receiving tainted blood infusions during that period.

More than 3,000 people have died. Many of the victims were haemophiliacs.

A number of those affected and relatives of people who died after receiving the blood were in court to see the case begin.

Negligence charge

One of the accused, Roger Perrault, was head of the Red Cross at the time.

John Furesz, a former Health Canada director, and Ward Boucher, the head of a blood products division in the department, also face charges including criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

The tainted blood products came from the US-based Armour Pharmaceutical Co.

The trial began on Tuesday after the court in Toronto, in the province of Ontario, decided that it had enough evidence to pursue the case and began to hear opening arguments from prosecutors.

The judge had previously given prosecutors an ultimatum to either prosecute or drop all charges, after doubt was cast over key evidence by one of the prosecution's experts witnesses.

Canada Red Cross used HIV blood
31 May 05 |  Americas

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