A French doctor who told investigators he was one of the world's best cosmetic surgeons went on trial Monday accused of mutilating and endangering the lives of dozens of men and women.
Michel Maure is facing 97 charges of misleading advertising, aggravated deceit, endangering lives, and involuntary injury between 2000 and 2004 in the trial in the southern port of Marseille set to last two weeks.
The 59-year-old, who has been struck off the medical register, is also accused of not declaring workers in his clinic and of threatening a victim to stop her from making a complaint about him.
Maure denies any wrongdoing and insists he is the "victim of a plot" by competitors who wanted to close down his business.
"People were never hurt," he told reporters on Monday. "The witnesses are people who refused to pay for their operation, they are simply thieves."
One of his former patients, who said she was given a botched facelift by Maure in 1999, said he "must be punished."
"I can't feel my ears any more. He made me suffer," she said as she entered the courthouse.
Cosmetic surgery has only been regulated in France since 2002.
Maure, who became a doctor in 1974, told investigators he was "one of the greatest cosmetic surgeons in the world" who had carried out 300 operations a year.
Most of his patients were women, for whom he carried out liposuctions or breast implants, but he also performed operations on men.
He worked in a clinic which investigators described as "dirty and badly maintained" where patients faced an "immediate risk of death or very serious after-effects."