Woman who killed abusive husband pardoned by French president

Thursday, December 29, 2016

PARIS -- Jacqueline Sauvage was released from a Paris prison last night after serving the last three years behind bars for killing her husband.

Sauvage, 69, was sentenced to 10 years in jail after she was convicted of fatally shooting her husband three times in the back with a hunting rifle in 2012 -- just one day after their son hanged himself, according to Reuters.

During her trials in 2014 and 2015, she detailed a home life dominated by abuse and shame.

Sauvage alleged that her husband, Norbert Marot, was a violent alcoholic who beat her for 47 years. The couple's three daughters also alleged that their father had abused them both physically and sexually, according to AFP.

In the trials, the women said they were "too humiliated" to ask for help.

The high-profile case grabbed the attention of women's advocacy groups, celebrities and politicians -- and stimulated a wider public debate on domestic violence in France.

In January, French President Francois Hollande granted a partial pardon to Sauvage after public pressure calling for her release. A petition was signed by more than 380,000 people.

The partial pardon allowed Sauvage to apply for parole -- but two courts rejected her release, according to AFP.

Wednesday's presidential pardon was welcomed by Nathalie Tomasini, one of Sauvage's lawyers. In an interview with French radio RTL she said that the decision sent a "strong message" to "all women victims of domestic violence."

But Virginie Duval, leader of the French union of magistrates, said that Hollande's intervention was a political move "to please public opinion."

In a statement released by the Elysee Palace on Wednesday, Hollande said: "Madame Sauvage's place was no longer in prison, but with her family.

"I've decided to grant Jacqueline Sauvage a pardon of the rest of her sentence. This pardon puts an immediate end to her detention," Hollande tweeted on Wednesday.

Under article 17 of the French Constitution, the president has the power to grant pardons on an individual basis. However, it is only the second time in Holland's tenure that he has exercised it.

In 2014, one of France's longest serving prisoners, Philippe El Shennawy was freed on parole after serving 38 years in prison.

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