Opinion among the French magistrature is divided following the presidential pardon Francois Hollande has granted Jacqueline Sauvage.
Her case is a cause celebre in France, as many say she should never have been imprisoned at all for the murder of her husband who subjected her and her children to almost 50 years of violent abuse. The pardon raises a legal and constitutional precedent that is dangerous, some claim.
“In this affair there have been several legal rulings yet finally the signal sent by Hollande is: ‘Come and knock on the President’s door. He will be able to undo anything the justice has done. I’m not sure it’s good to give such a signal,” said the President of the Magistrate’s Union Virginie Duval.
Prosecutors are disturbed by the fact she showed no remorse for shooting her tormentor in the back and insist it was premeditated and not an uncontrollable response to immediate danger. One of the couple’s children had killed himself the day before.
For her defenders the pardon was long overdue.
“I’m very moved. It’s a huge victory. It’s a very strong message sent by the President to the whole of the French society,” said Sauvage’s lawyer Nathalie Tomasini.
Added controversy comes from the fact that Hollande is no fan of the pardon himself and at one time said he wanted to abolish it. In the Sauvage case he has clearly been swayed by public and bipartisan political opinion, all but four-square behind her.