French mother who killed 5 newborns gets 8-year prison term

Bordeaux - A mother in southwest France who drowned five of her newborn babies and hid them in a freezer before her family made the grim discovery, was sentenced to eight years in prison on Friday.

A frail Romana Canete, 37, tearfully asked the court in Bordeaux for "forgiveness" at the end of her trial this week, saying it had "reopened terrible and cruel memories."

She admitted to drowning the five newborns, which police estimate occurred between 2009 and 2015, after giving birth in a bathtub at her home in Louchats, about 40 kilometres south of Bordeaux.

One of her two daughters found one of the babies in a bag in a freezer, and police found the others after being alerted by Canete's husband.

But Canete said during her trial that she did not have a clear memory of the incidents, and her husband, who was initially suspected of covering up the deaths, said he was completely unaware of her pregnancies.

"Even today I don't know why she did this," Juan Carlos Canete, a farm worker, told the court.

But his wife said during the trial that she had sustained "repeated verbal abuse" by her husband, who himself acknowledged "obsessive jealously".

Canete has already spent three years in detention and may be eligible for early release, though the court ordered psychological treatment for five years once she leaves prison.

She vowed to continue working with her psychiatrists "to be able to one day consider these babies as my children."

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