France zones in on Swiss firm in Schumacher theft probe

LYON (AFP) - France has tracked down the IP address of the computer used by the alleged thief of Michael Schumacher's medical records, prosecutors said on Monday, locating it in a Swiss helicopter firm that had reportedly been due to transport the Formula One champion.

A report summarising the motor-racing star's treatment after he suffered a devastating ski accident in December was stolen and offered for sale last month after the 45-year-old was transferred from hospital in the French city of Grenoble to a facility in Switzerland after emerging from a coma.

French police opened a criminal probe into the theft of the document, which prosecutors said consists of several dozen pages that summarise the seven-time world champion's treatment in Grenoble.

"The IP address was located in a helicopter firm in the Zurich area," the prosecutor's office in Grenoble said, refusing to reveal the name of the company or the alleged thief, but saying it had now passed the investigation on to Swiss authorities.

A report in the French local newspaper Dauphine Libere said the firm had initially been due to transfer Schumacher from Grenoble to Lausanne in Switzerland, where he is now being treated.

The company had therefore been given a copy of the medical report which ended up being offered for sale to several journalists, the newspaper said.

Grenoble prosecutor Jean-Yves Coquillat had said last month that the perpetrator or perpetrators of the theft contacted some French, Swiss and German journalists.

An individual, communicating by email, had asked for 60,000 Swiss francs (S$83,000) for the medical document.

The document did not appear in Schumacher's final medical report and was likely to have been a draft which had been left in a hospital bin, according to the prosecutor.

A source close to the investigation said the document appeared to be a summary written by Schumacher's doctor for his transfer to Switzerland.

Schumacher's spokeswoman Sabine Kehm has warned that the documents are confidential and promised to sue any publication that releases the medical records.

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