French ministries are raided in BSE inquiry

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The Independent Online

Police raided offices of the French government yesterday as part of an investigation into manslaughter charges linked to BSE..

Police raided offices of the French government yesterday as part of an investigation into manslaughter charges linked to BSE..

The charges have been brought against officials by the families of victims of the fatal human equivalent of so-called mad cow disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). Two people have died of vCJD in France and a third is suspected of suffering from the illness, which scientists have linked to eating contaminated beef.

Judicial sources said prosecutors, accompanied by the police, removed documents from the agriculture, health and finance ministries.

Prosecutors are investigating the official handling of the BSE crisis during the late 1980s and 1990s after families of victims filed manslaughter charges against "persons unknown" last month.

The Paris prosecutor's office said at the time it was considering bringing charges.

The families want formal charges brought against British and European officials for allowing Britain to export suspect animal feed - which scientists have linked to BSE - after banning it at home in 1989.

They also want charges brought against French officials for not taking action to stop it.

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