Woman faces 10 years in 'freezer babies' trial

18th June 2009, Comments 0 comments

A 10-year jail sentence has been requested for Veronique Courjault who killed three newborn babies.

Tours – French prosecutors on Wednesday asked a court to hand down a 10-year jail sentence to a woman for killing three newborn babies, two of whom she hid in a freezer in her expat home in South Korea.

Veronique Courjault has admitted to smothering her two baby boys secretly at her house in Seoul in 2002 and 2003, and to killing a third child born in France in 1999.

The 44-year-old mother faced a maximum life sentence, but prosecutors sought 10 years in their closing arguments before the criminal court in Tours, central France.

Jurors are to deliver a verdict on Thursday in the case that has shocked France and stirred debate on mental illness after the defence argued that she was in a state of denial while pregnant.

Courjault kept the three pregnancies concealed from her husband and two other sons and testified that she never came to terms with the fact that she was carrying the babies.

"Do not demonize Veronique Courjault," prosecutor Philippe Varin told the court after requesting the 10-year jail term. "But do not turn her into an icon either."

Courjault's husband Jean-Louis found the two bodies in the freezer in Seoul in July 2006 after going downstairs to put some fish in the icebox.

The couple at first insisted they had no idea who the infants were, but after DNA tests showed they were the parents, Veronique Courjault admitted to their murder.

An engineer who worked for a US company in Seoul, Jean-Louis Courjault has stood by his wife, saying he still loves her and that she needs psychiatric help.

The trial which opened on 9 June featured testimony from several mental health experts who were divided as to whether Courjault suffered from a disorder or merely didn't want to have the children.

Called to the bar, obstetrician Israel Nisand described the little-known phenomenon of "pregnancy denial", a mental and physical disorder in which a woman's body contorts to mask the child's development in the womb.

The court also heard from Nisand that there was a strong chance Courjault's babies were dead at birth, given the complications likely to arise when a woman delivers a child without assistance.

Courjault herself says she failed to connect with the children growing inside her, that they did not "talk" to her, and that she did not sense them moving up until she gave birth, alone in the bathtub.

AFP / Expatica

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