Frenchwoman now says she killed three babies

13th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

TOURS, France, Oct 13, 2006 (AFP) - A Frenchwoman who confessed to killing three babies she gave birth to between 1999 and 2003 was in jail Friday in central France under criminal investigation for murder.

TOURS, France, Oct 13, 2006 (AFP) - A Frenchwoman who confessed to killing three babies she gave birth to between 1999 and 2003 was in jail Friday in central France under criminal investigation for murder.

Véronique Courjault, 38, has admitted to suffocating each of the babies, who were born in secret, according to police and her lawyer. She is imprisoned in the town of Orleans.

The July discovery of two of the babies' bodies in the freezer in her expatriate home in Seoul, South Korea, triggered inquiries that led to her detention this week in France and her confession on Thursday.

Her husband, Jean-Louis Courjault, 40, was said to have been visibly shocked by his wife's revelations. He is under criminal investigation for being an accomplice to murder, but is free under judicial supervision.

A state prosecutor, Philippe Varin, said Véronique Courjault "had admitted that the acts were premeditated."

Her lawyer, Marc Morin, confirmed the murder probe.

"We have to clarify a number of points but she has not disputed her responsibility," he said.

He added that the husband had been unaware of the births and the killings.

The Frenchwoman's confession reversed nearly three months of strident denials the Courjaults had made since the grisly find of the two bodies in Seoul.

Repeatedly, they had said they were not the parents of the children, and held a news conference in France in August to say they would not be returning to South Korea — where Jean-Louis Courjault had a job with a US car parts company — to face questioning there.

A succession of DNA tests, first in South Korea then in France, showed their assertions to be false and ultimately led to Véronique Courjault breaking down under interrogation and admitting the killings.

According to the French daily Libération, citing investigators, the Frenchwoman — who already has two sons, aged 10 and 11, with her husband — carried out the crimes because she "did not want more children".

In 1999, while still in France, she allegedly shielded her pregnancy from her husband, who was often away on business, and gave birth to a boy whom she "suffocated" and whose body she burnt in the fireplace of her family home.

For reasons she has not sufficiently explained, she did not seek an abortion.

In 2002, the Courjaults moved to South Korea. There, she confessed to secretly giving birth to a second boy whom she also suffocated. His body was put in one of the two large freezers kept in a separate room in the big house in Seoul rented by Jean-Louis Courjault's company.

The following year, according to her confession, she again gave birth, again to a boy, in her bathtub. She again stopped the baby breathing and put his body in a supermarket plastic bag and placed him in the same freezer, next to his brother.

One investigator told Liberation it appeared she viewed the freezer — which she exclusively used — as a sort of "family tomb".

But the third birth led to an infection which resulted in her having an ablation of her uterus — a procedure one step short of a hysterectomy that leaves the patient sterile.

South Korean investigators used tissue from that operation for one of their two DNA tests which proved the Courjaults were the parents of the babies.

Jean-Louis Corjault raised the alarm to police upon finding the two babies' bodies in the freezer on July 23.

He had left a family vacation in France to return to Seoul on urgent business and said he came across the corpses while putting away fish given him by his Korean teacher.

Although questioned by South Korean officers, his obvious shock at the find did not raise any suspicions against him and he was allowed to leave to continue his vacation in France.

Later, when South Korean DNA testing showed he and his wife were the parents, they made their announcement that they were staying in France.

French authorities then launched their own preliminary inquiry which led to their own DNA test confirming the South Korean results, and, ultimately, Veronique Courjault's confession.

French investigators were combing the Courjaults' property near Tours, central west France, for any trace of the first baby the woman said she had killed and incinerated.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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