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France: Verdict due for woman accused of freezing, burning babies

By Andy Madden     Jun 17, 2009 in Crime
A trial in France is expected to reach a verdict later this week in the case of a French woman accused of murdering three newly born babies. Two babies were left in a freezer and one was burned.
The case came to light when Jean-Louis Courjault found the bodies of two babies in the freezer of their home in South Korea. His wife, Veronique Courjault, who already has two teenage sons and has been described as an exemplary mother, reportedly admitted to suffocating the two infants in South Korea in 2002 and 2003. Mrs Courjault also allegedly said she killed and burned another baby she gave birth to in 1999.
Shock and revulsion were the initial reactions when the case came to light in 2006 but amazingly the French media is now treating this case with pity and sympathy.
The trial has brought to light a psychological condition called pregnancy denial which according to Liberation affects between 1600 and 2000 women in France every year.
Many of the women suffering from pregnancy denial only admit to being pregnant at the moment of birth and somehow manage to avoid weight gain and continue to menstruate throughout their pregnancies. Another surprising fact was that the majority of the cases cited were not teenagers falling pregnant for the first time but women who already had two children.
Mrs Courjault denied any involvement with the two babies, who were discovered by her husband while she was on holiday in France, until DNA established that they were the couple’s children.
The Courjault’s had agreed that they did not want anymore children and according to the BBC Veronique told investigators that during her three subsequent pregnancies, she had felt no connection with the babies growing inside her.
Mrs Courjault told psychiatrists "As far as I was concerned they were never children. It was a part of myself, an extension of myself that I was killing."
The jury in the case now has to decide if Veronique Courjault committed pre-meditated murder or as her lawyers claim she was suffering from the psychological condition pregnancy denial.
The judge presiding over the case Georges Domergue has decided to extend the trial by another 24 hours to give "everyone the chance to express themselves and to put forward their arguments".
If convicted Veronique Courjault could face life imprisonment.
More about Pregnancy denial, France, Freezer
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