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Schumi scandal: Chopper company cries foul

2014-07-09 08:14

SCHUMI MEDICAL RECORD SCANDAL: Michael Schumacher’s medical records have reportedly been stolen. At the centre of the theft is Swiss helicopter company Rega. Image: AFP

GENEVA, Switzerland - Swiss helicopter company Rega has filed a criminal complaint for the suspected leak of Michael Schumacher's medical files as the seven-times Formula 1 champion undergoes neurological rehabilitation.

The Zurich-based company, which specialises in emergency medical assistance, said in a statement. "Rega has no proof that one of its employees is implicated but out of a concern for absolute clarity in this case Rega today (July 8 2014) lodged a complaint with the prosecutor of Zurich canton against an unknown person."

LEAKED FILES

Schumacher, who suffered severe head injuries in a December 2013 ski fall in the French Alps, was transferred under a pseudonym from a Grenoble hospital to the University Hospital of Lausanne on June 16 after emerging from a coma.

Schumacher was taken by ambulance but Rega was also contacted when helicopter transport was being considered.

French daily Le Dauphine Libere reported on Monday (July 8) that leaked documents being offered to European media for the equivalent of about R750 000 appeared to have come from the IP address of a computer at a Zurich-based helicopter company.

Rega said it had no evidence that any of its employees violated patient privacy and medical secrecy after receiving Schumacher's medical report from the Grenoble hospital. Noting that it was now "at the centre of speculation", Rega said it was making a public statement to clarify the situation after publication of the French media report.

SCHUMI RECORDS ON SALE

A spokeswoman for the Zurich cantonal prosecutor confirmed that the Rega complaint had been received but no formal investigation had started. The prosecutor was in talks with French authorities regarding jurisdiction, she added.

Schumacher's agent Sabine Kehm said in June 2014 that medical records purported to be his had been offered for sale and officials were investigating the theft. Criminal charges and damages would be sought against anyone involved in the illegal sale or publication of his confidential records, she said at the time.

Kehm, contacted by email on Tuesday, said she had no further comment.

SCHUMI 'SEMI-CONSCIOUS'

Swiss and German news media reported that Schumacher was semi-conscious during the ambulance trip and able to communicate by nodding his head.

Experts at the Swiss neurological rehabilitation unit stimulate patients at its "Jardin des Sens" (garden of the senses) by exposing them to water, scents and other elements. The area has been cordoned off to prevent media access.

Schumacher, the most successful F1 driver of all time, has had several brain operations since his fall in the resort of Meribel and is expected to face a long recovery.

His wife Corinna and teenage daughter and son live in the family home midway between Geneva and Lausanne.

• Supplementary reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Joshua Franklin in Zurich. Reuters editing by Alan Baldwin.
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