A French doctor has been accused of poisoning dozens of patients during surgery so that he could seem like a hero when he revived them. Seven of these patients wound up dying.

Here’s what we know

Dr Frédéric Péchier was an anesthetist who worked at two clinics in the city of Besançon in eastern France. Between 2008 and 2016, he allegedly injected 24 patients with potassium chloride or local anesthetics in order to induce cardiac arrest.

In 2017, he was investigated for seven separate instances of suspected poisoning. On Thursday, 17 more cases were added. These patients ranged in age from as young as 4 to as old as 80.

In one example, from February 2016, Péchier resuscitated a 4-year-old boy named Teddy who had suffered cardiac arrest twice during a tonsillectomy.

Investigators had looked into dozens of other “serious undesirable events,” but could only find circumstantial evidence connecting these to Péchier.

Péchier’s lawyer said that he “rejects all the charges brought against him.” He also added that he and his client “challenge anybody to show us any evidence.”

But prosecutor Etienne Manteaux said that Péchier was “the common denominator” in each case. He also questioned how Péchier was able to diagnose the affected patients so quickly “at a stage when nothing led to suspicions of an overdose of potassium or local anesthetics.”

What did the doctor say?

Péchier told reporters that his career “is over” regardless of the outcome of his trial.

“You cannot trust a doctor who, at one point, has been labelled a poisoner. … My family is broken and I am afraid for my children,” he said, according to the BBC.

If he is found guilty, Péchier would face life in prison.

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