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Judge bars foreign media from Canada tainted blood trial

[JURIST] A Canadian judge Monday banned foreign media from the courtroom for a long-awaited criminal trial over the use of HIV-infected blood-clotting medicine by the Canadian Red Cross [CBC backgrounder] in the 1980s that led to more than 1000 Canadians testing positive for the AIDS-related virus. Madam Justice Mary Lou Benotto [Ontario Bar Association profile] granted the motion of prosecutors to bar reporters for foreign publications in anticipation of heightened American interest in the trial because two defendants, Armour Pharmaceutical Co. and Michael Rodell, a former executive, are American.

Benotto also ruled that reporters may not reveal the identities of victims named in the case. In all, five people - including the former director of blood transfusion for the Canadian Red Cross [official website] - are charged with allowing the HIV-infected clotting product Factorate to be distributed [FDA news release] to hemophilia patients. The tainted blood scandal, which also resulted in 14,000 Canadians getting Hepatitis C, prompted a full-scale Canadian government inquiry [final report, PDF], transfer of Red Cross operation of Canadian blood donation efforts to the new Canadian Blood Services [official website] organization, and finally, in May 2005, a public apology [transcript] by Canadian Red Cross leadership. The trial was expected to open Monday, but was delayed by further pretrial motions. The Globe and Mail has more.

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