François Hollande Pardons French Woman Who Killed Abusive Husband

Jacqueline Sauvage was found guilty in 2014 of shooting her husband with a hunting rifle after decades of abuse. She has been granted a full pardon. Credit Philippe Renaud/European Pressphoto Agency

PARIS — In an unexpected move, President François Hollande of France granted a full pardon on Wednesday to a woman who had been sentenced to prison for murdering her husband after decades of domestic abuse.

The woman, Jacqueline Sauvage, was found guilty by a criminal court in 2014 of shooting her husband, Norbert Marot, three times in the back with a hunting rifle in 2012. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

“The president of the republic has estimated that Ms. Sauvage’s place was no longer in prison, but with her family,” said a statement from the president’s office announcing her full pardon. Mr. Hollande had commuted part of her sentence in January.

Ms. Sauvage was released from a prison near Paris within hours of the announcement.

“I’m deeply shaken, I wasn’t expecting it,” Carole Marot, one of Ms. Sauvage’s daughters, told French radio. “An infinite thanks to the president of the republic.”

Ms. Sauvage had spent more than four years in prison, and became a symbol of domestic abuse in France. Violence against women occurs at a higher level in France than in Europe over all, according to a 2014 report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

Her case led to a fierce debate about when self-defense is justified. At her trial, her lawyers argued that she had shot her husband after enduring years of violence.

The couple’s three daughters testified that their father had physically and sexually abused them as teenagers.

Ms. Sauvage first attracted public attention when a petition calling on the president to grant her a full pardon collected more than 400,000 signatures.

The call resonated deeply across the country. Committees supported by prominent political figures like Mayor Anne Hidalgo of Paris helped persuade Mr. Hollande in January to commute part of her sentence. That partial pardon enabled Ms. Sauvage to apply for parole.

A court rejected her parole application, and Ms. Sauvage appealed that decision, but a court rejected her appeal last month.

This month, Ms. Sauvage’s daughters sent Mr. Hollande a letter asking him to grant her a full pardon.

Mr. Hollande’s announcement was praised across the political spectrum, but some magistrates questioned the timing of his decision and accused him of flouting the independence of the judiciary.

“He could have granted that pardon months ago,” Marie-Jane Ody, the vice president of a union representing magistrates, told French radio. “Why didn’t he do it the first time?”

Source: NYTimes