October 12, 2017 / 1:22 PM / 2 years ago

Swedish prosecutor says will not charge Italian stem cell surgeon

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish prosecutors said on Thursday they were ending without charges an investigation into surgeon Paolo Macchiarini after finding no legal evidence he caused the death of three patients.

Macchiarini was hired by the Karolinska Institute and the Karolinska hospital in 2010 and carried out operations between 2011 and 2012 in which he transplanted synthetic tracheas coated with stem cells into three patients.

All of patients died in the wake of the surgeries. Macchiarini has denied any wrongdoing related to the surgeries.

Swedish prosecutors opened an investigation into the Italian surgeon on suspicion of gross criminal negligence causing bodily harm or death after reports of the experimental surgeries made headlines across the Nordic country.

“We have not been able to prove that there would have been a better result with another (medical) method,” Public Prosecutor Jennie Nordin told a news conference on Thursday.

Macchiarini’s lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig, said his client was “happy and satisfied” with the prosecutors’ decision.

The investigation sparked controversy concerning the Karolinska Institute, which awards the Nobel Prize for Medicine, and the government dismissed its board in 2016 after a probe showed it was negligent when hiring Macchiarini.

Macchiarini was fired by Karolinska in March 2016.

Reporting by Johan Sennero; Editing by Niklas Pollard and Catherine Evans

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