The former president of the prestigious Paris-Descartes University, Frédéric Dardel, has been indicted Friday, June 4, for the indecent conservation and rotting of hundreds of bodies that were donated for research to the Center for the Donation of Bodies (CDC).


Dardel's lawyer confirmed late Friday that the academic was charged after being questioned regarding the controversial scandal that forced the closure of the CDC at Paris-Descartes University in November 2019, reported RFI.


The Centre for Body Donations, first founded in 1953, was heralded as a "temple of anatomy" for half a century with hundreds of bodies donated to the facility every year. However, the French government shut down the center in 2019 after reports came to light that bodies in the facility had allegedly been left to rot, gnawed by mice, or even sold for profit without consent from families, reported The Informant.


France's L'Express first broke the story in November 2019 and referred to the CDC as a "mass grave in the heart of Paris." It published photographs taken in the cold room of the facility showing bodies "naked, dismembered, eyes open, piled up on a gurney and in an indescribable jumble."


"Here, a decomposing leg dangles. There, another damaged, blackened, and riddled with holes after being nibbled by mice," the publication noted.


The magazine reported that since one of the doors of the cold room was extremely rusty, it no longer closed properly.  This caused air conditioning to halt frequently which in turn forced the staff to incinerate dozens of rotting bodies before they had even been dissected.


The magazine also revealed some of the bodies, which were donated to the facility for research and teaching anatomy, had allegedly been sold to private individuals or companies. A limb goes for up to 400 euros and a whole body for up to 900 euros, the weekly wrote.


The report that the magazine released was based on photographs taken inside the center in 2016 and resulted in a nationwide scandal. In February 2020, 35 families who had allegedly donated their relatives' corpses and body parts to the university filed a lawsuit against the facility for "violation of the integrity of the human body."

Following an investigation into the matter, the university was forced to make a public apology to the families, reported The Canadian.
 
In June 2020, a government agency in charge of inspecting education facilities reportedly said that there were "serious ethical breaches" from the Centre's management and revealed that even though the management had received various warnings regarding the matter, these warnings were ignored.


The Association Charnier Paris-Descartes represents families whose relatives had donated their bodies to the institution. The association members are reportedly happy that the first person in authority has been charged "at last."


After CDC was closed, Dardel was reportedly made a special advisor in the cabinet of Minister for Research Frederique Vidal and was later appointed director of a CNRS unit, a state research facility.
 
Dardel’s lawyer Marie-Alix Canu-Bernard argued that Dardel had tirelessly tried to bring renovation funds to the CDC, but that his appeals were mostly ignored and unattended to. She argued that the state was primarily guilty of the neglect and not Dardel.

Representation Image The former president of the prestigious Paris-Descartes University, Frédéric Dardel, was indicted on Friday, June 4, for the indecent conservation and rotting of hundreds of bodies that were donated for research to the Center for the Donation of Bodies (CDC). This is a representational image. Pixabay