"Unjustly condemned"

Is a rare presidential pardon imminent for abused wife convicted of murder?

French president Francois Hollande has responded to a widespread and heated campaign to free Jacqueline Sauvage from prison, with some media suggesting clemency could be imminent

Jacqueline Sauvage, pictured in the dock after being sentenced to 10 years in prison for the murder of her abusive husband.

French woman Jacqueline Sauvage, serving a ten-year prison sentence for the murder of her sadistically violent, rapist husband, could be on the road to freedom after President Francois Hollande agreed to meet her daughters and lawyers at the Elysee Palace on Friday.

Sylvie, Carole and Fabienne Marot have implored the head of state to pardon their mother, who suffered for 47 years from their physically brutal, incestuous father. Judge and jury in a December appeal-court ruling rejected evidence the 68 year-old acted in self-defense when she fatally shot her husband in 2012, leaving her with little option but to ask for une grâce présidentielle –– a pardon.

President Hollande has finally responded to the clamor for Sauvage’s liberation that has spread across social networks, traditional media, and political and cultural spheres. Women in the World first drew attention to Sauvage’s plight in late December.

Daughters of Jacqueline Sauvage, Carole and Sylvie Marot, and Sauvage’s two lawyers at a protest at the Place du Châtelet, Saturday, December 12, 2015 .

Backers of the woman who has become a symbol for battered wives everywhere hope Hollande will also consider reforms to France’s outmoded domestic violence laws. They want recognition of post-traumatic syndrome which can result in a woman “cracking” and killing her violent spouse in self-defense after years of constant attacks.

“A cross-section of the French political class from left to right, as well as actors who formed a support committee and people across the country have united and mobilized, pushing our President to meet the three daughters of Jacqueline Sauvage as well as her lawyers Janine Bonaggiunta and myself in order to shed light on this urgent case,” Sauvage’s attorney Nathalie Tomasini told Women in the World. “Perhaps this is the first step towards a presidential pardon!”

“We can only rejoice at this initial development, which shows that the President is not only listening to us and to Jacqueline Sauvage but also to the French women and men — ordinary people, artists and politicians — who have protested en masse calling for a presidential pardon.”

French President Francois Hollande delivering a speech during his visit to New Delhi, January 26, 2016. (STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images)

French President Francois Hollande, pictured on January 26, 2016, has agreed to meet Jacqueline Sauvage’s daughters and lawyers. (STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Sylvie Marot, Sauvage’s daughter said she would tell the President that the fact that her mother was found guilty of murdering her sadistic father, showed “there is a problem with the law.”

Sauvage’s support committee headed by actress Eva Darlan said she had been “unjustly condemned because of a retrograde gap in the law that doesn’t consider self-defense can be applied to an entire life.”

Some French media are suggesting a pardon could be announced as early as tomorrow but the Elysee Palace insisted it could not say when a decision would be taken.

A spokesperson for the President noted that Hollande is not personally in favor of the ancien regime prerogative, dating back to the divine right of kings.

During the 2012 election campaign Hollande distanced himself from the arcane pardon system pointing out that it recalled quite “another conception of power.”

Jacqueline Sauvage (L) and her daughter Fabienne Marot, who broke down in court after her mother was sentenced to 10 years in prison. (BFM-TV)

Follow Emma-Kate Symons on Twitter @eksymons


Pressure builds on French president to release woman who killed sadistic husband

Daughters of woman who fatally shot her husband of 47 years plead for her freedom

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