French serial killer Fourniret and wife face life in jail

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Prosecutors are seeking life in jail for the serial killer and his wife as they head for a verdict on Wednesday.

26 May 2008

CHARLEVILLE-MEZIERES - The trial of French serial killer Michel Fourniret and his wife heads for a verdict this week, with prosecutors seeking life in jail for the couple described as a "devil with two faces".

Fourniret, a 66-year-old machine operator, and Monique Olivier, a 59-year-old nurse, will be sentenced on Wednesday at the end of a two-month trial exposing one of France's most gruesome cases in recent years.

Dubbed the "Ogre of the Ardennes", the bespectacled grey-haired Fourniret has admitted to murdering, raping and kidnapping seven young girls and women between 1987 and 2001.

His wife is accused of helping him trap victims including 12-year-old Elizabeth Brichet, who was kidnapped while walking home from a friend's house in 1989, strangled and buried on the grounds of Fourniret's chateau - a plastic bag over her head.

Olivier is also charged as an accomplice to the murder of 13-year-old Natacha Danais who was lured into the couple's van in the parking lot of a supermarket and stabbed during an attempted rape.

Among the most disturbing accounts, the court heard testimony from a coroner suggesting Fourniret sexually assaulted Danais after killing her. The body was found on beach on the French Atlantic coast in 1990.

Describing the couple as "inhuman and cruel criminals, the likes of which our country could have never imagined", state prosecutor Francis Nachbar demanded the maximum sentence of life in prison for Fourniret, with no possibility of parole.

He called him a "necrophiliac monster" and did not spare Olivier, saying together they formed a "devil with two faces".

The prosecution is seeking life imprisonment for Olivier, with no possibility of parole for 30 years.

During the trial in the small town of Charleville-Mezieres in northeast France, the jury heard Fourniret admit that he had a sexual obsession with virgins.

"I remain an extremely dangerous individual," Fourniret told the court.

Lawyers for Olivier sought to portray their client as the terrorised wife of a domineering husband. She is charged in the murder of one of the victims and complicity in three others.

But state prosecutor Xavier Lenoir described her as a willing accomplice, saying she displayed a "deafening silence" to the screams of girls being raped by her husband and acted as a "catalyst" for their perverse crimes.

Olivier testified that she and Fourniret would reproduce scenes from their crimes during sexual intercourse.

Fourniret met Olivier in the 1980s while he was serving time in jail on sexual assault charges. She responded to an ad he had placed for a pen pal.

Letters seized by investigators showed that Fourniret had made a pact with Olivier that in exchange for the murder of her first husband - who was never killed - she would find him virgins to satisfy his obsession.

The trial also laid bare some of the mistakes by police that allowed Fourniret to elude arrest for years, both in France and across the border in Belgium where he operated.

A Belgian teenage girl took the stand and recounted how she managed to escape from Fourniret after he pushed her into the back of his van in June 2003 and threatened to kill her.

When the van stopped at an intersection, she jumped out, was picked up by a passing car and went to the police.

The court also heard from the parents of the victims, who turned up at the tribunal carrying white roses in memory of the seven, aged 12 to 22.

"I feel so much hate that if life permits, I will go and spit on your grave," said the father of Celine Saison, 18, who was raped and strangled to death in 2000.

The nine-person jury is to hear final summations on Tuesday before retiring to deliberate on their verdict.

Fourniret faces charges in three other cases including the 1990 murder of Joanna Parrish, a 20-year-old British woman who worked as a teaching assistant in the central French city of Auxerre.

[AFP / Expatica]

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