Ignore pardon - French prosecution

2016-02-05 19:31


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Grenoble - French prosecutors on Friday requested an eight-year jail sentence for a woman who shot dead her abusive husband, less than a week after President Francois Hollande pardoned a woman jailed in a similar case.

Prosecutor Therese Brunisso advised the jury to ignore the recent case in considering that of Bernadette Dimet, 60, who shot her violent husband in a forest clearing with a hunting rifle in 2012 after an argument.

"My intention was to commit suicide. He followed me and made me afraid. The shot just went off," Dimet told the court on Thursday.

Brunisso argued the accused would not have needed four cartridges if she intended to kill herself, and that her husband would not have followed her into the clearing if he had known she was armed.

"It is much more likely she told him to meet her there," she said.

While acknowledging the "physical and psychological violence" suffered by Dimet throughout her marriage, the prosecutor said this did not give her "a licence to kill".

The prosecution also dismissed the motive of self-defence, as well as that of "delayed self-defence" which was argued in the case of Jacqueline Sauvage, 68, who was pardoned on Sunday.

Sauvage became a cause celebre after she was sentenced to 10 years for killing her abusive and rapist husband, with more than 400 000 people signing a petition demanding her release.

Killing someone in response to repeated acts of violence suffered over decades, as in Sauvage's case, does not meet the test for self-defence in French law.

Experts coined the phrase "battered woman syndrome" in the 1970s to explain the psychological state of a woman subjected to such violence.

This was seen as crucial to understanding why women like Sauvage failed to leave or report their husbands - a question that often arises at their trials.

But the syndrome remains hotly debated, with some scholars and feminists arguing it portrays women as irrational.

Brunisso warned the jury that "no criminal case is similar to another".

She also recalled that Dimet had on several occasions refused the intervention of police in her marital disputes and did not want to press charges against her husband or make contact with a support group for beaten women.

"Bernadette Dimet could have escaped her husband by some other means than killing him," she said.

Read more on:    france

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