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Accused of unnecessary surgeries, doctor 'has evil nature'

Prosecutors say Brega Massone thought only of lining his pockets

12 March, 19:52
Accused of unnecessary surgeries, doctor 'has evil nature' (ANSA) - Milan, March 12 - A surgeon accused of carrying out 90 unnecessary operations, which led to the death of at least four elderly patients, "has an evil nature" and should be sentenced in life in prison, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

The former head of Milan's Santa Rita Clinic, Pier Paolo Brega Massone, "did not hesitate" to perform unnecessary interventions and demonstrated a lack of compassion for other humans, said prosecutor Grazia Pradella in requesting the life sentence.

In October 2010, Brega Massone was sentenced in a previous trial to 15-and-a-half years in prison on the charges while his assistants, Fabio Pietro Presicci and Marco Pansera, were sentenced to ten years, and six years and nine months respectively. The scandal surrounding Milan's Santa Rita Clinic - dubbed the "clinic of horrors" by Italian media - broke in May 2008, when Brega Massone and Presicci were jailed on murder charges.

Eleven other doctors and the owner of the clinic were, at the time, placed under house arrest for their role in performing superfluous and lucrative operations, including on some terminally ill patients.

In rejecting his plea to avoid preventive custody, the Court of Cassation said in 2009 that Brega Massone was "fully aware" of the risks involved in carrying out the unnecessary operations and did so for "no other reason than making a profit".

The court had said he should remain in jail while awaiting trial, stressing that he had "decreed the patients' deaths" with his behaviour.

Among the operations performed was the removal of a lung which allegedly caused a patient to die.

Another alleged murder case, investigators said, was that of an elderly woman who could have been saved by having a tumour wholly removed but instead underwent three separate operations which fatally weakened her while lining the doctors' pockets.

At least two women, including a 19-year-old, were subjected to mastectomies for simple cysts as part of what prosecutors say was an ongoing "system" set up to claim reimbursements from the state health funds.

Brega Massone claimed in 2010 that he "always thought of the well-being of the patient and acted according to protocol and conscience".

He said he was "the scapegoat" for the broader situation in Milan's public health system.