Verdict Thursday in French 'frozen baby' trial

17th June 2009, Comments 0 comments

Veronique Courjault, 44, faces life in jail after admitting killing three of her newborn babies.

Tours – Jurors are to hand down a verdict on Thursday in the trial of a Frenchwoman accused of smothering three of her newborn babies to death, hiding two of the bodies in a freezer.

Veronique Courjault, 44, faces life in jail after admitting killing two baby boys born secretly at her expatriate home in South Korea in 2002 and 2003, and a third child born in France in 1999.

Initially set to run until Wednesday, the trial was extended by 24 hours "for everyone to have the chance to express themselves and put forward their arguments," the presiding judge, Georges Domergue, told the court on Tuesday.

Jurors will have to decide whether or not Courjault, who kept the three pregancies concealed from her husband and two other sons, was suffering from a mental disorder at the time, as suggested by her defence team.

Psychologists testifying at the trial have been divided over whether Courjault was fully aware she was pregnant, while psychiatrists were expected Tuesday to argue she was conscious of her condition.

One obstetrician called to testify, 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.

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.

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's husband Jean-Louis, who found the two bodies in the freezer in Seoul in 2006 but was cleared of involvement in the crime, has stood by his wife, saying he still loves her and that she needs psychiatric help.

The state prosecutor is to make his sentencing requests Wednesday afternoon, with the defence to state its closing arguments on Thursday, at the end of the eight-day trial in the western French city of Tours.

AFP / Expatica

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