French President Francois Hollande has taken the unusual step of pardoning a woman who killed her husband after enduring decades of abuse.
Jacqueline Sauvage had been sentenced to ten years in prison. She was released on Wednesday, after serving two years in jail.
President Hollande had intervened again, after first commuting part of her sentence and allowing Sauvage to apply for parole in January.
This time he pardoned Sauvage completely, and released the 69-year old with immediate effect.
J'ai décidé d'accorder à Jacqueline Sauvage une remise gracieuse du reliquat de sa peine. Cette grâce met fin immédiatement à sa détention.— François Hollande (@fhollande) December 28, 2016
“I decided to grant Jaqueline Sauvage a pardon of the rest of her sentence. This pardon will end her detention immediately”.
In a statement released by the Elysee palace, Hollande added that Sauvage’s place is not in prison, but with her family
The French President was given the power to grant pardons in 1958, but it is rarely used. Sauvage is only the second prisoner President Hollande has freed. The first was Philippe El Shennawy, who was France’s longest held prisoner . He was freed on parole after 38 years in prison.
Here Euronews goes through the who, what, why, where and when of the case which is making headlines across France and the world.
Jacqueline Sauvage is a 69-year-old woman from Montargis in central France.
She has described her husband, Norbert Marot, as a violent alcoholic who she claims abused her for 47 years.
She also says he raped their daughters and abused their son, who later committed suicide.
The day after her son’s suicide in September 2012, Jacqueline Sauvage shot her husband three times in the back with his own hunting rifle, killing him.
In October 2014 she was found guilty of killing him and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Jacqueline Sauvage argued that she had acted in self-defence. But the prosecutor decided that the shooting was not a proportionate response to a direct act of aggression.
The state rejected the self-defence plea and the conviction was upheld in December 2015.
The original decision by President Hollande did not quash Sauvage’s conviction. It did, however, take two years and five months off the minimum sentence of five years.
Ms Sauvage is now free thanks to a change of heart by Hollande, and a hard-fought campaign by Sauvage’s family.
Il faut grâcier Jacqueline Sauvage https://t.co/el5jISakO0 (par
BouchetPetersen</a>) <a href="https://t.co/Fvbv93TqD4">pic.twitter.com/Fvbv93TqD4</a></p>— Libération (libe) January 29, 2016
At least 434,000 people signed a petition calling on the French President to intervene in the Sauvage case, including dozens of MPs from across the political spectrum.
Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has been another high profile supporter of the Sauvage case.
fhollande</a> a reçu Sylvie, Carole et Fabienne Marot, filles de Mme Jacqueline Sauvage <a href="https://t.co/SUhE06sIEe">https://t.co/SUhE06sIEe</a> <a href="https://t.co/D5bLIANh5D">pic.twitter.com/D5bLIANh5D</a></p>— Élysée (Elysee) January 29, 2016
President Hollande met the three adult Sauvage daughters in Paris in January.
The family lived in Montargis in central France.
The Presidential pardon is immediate. A car carrying Sauvage and her daughters was seen leaving prison on Wednesday evening.
What they are saying
Je salue la grâce accordée à J. Sauvage. C'est une décision de sagesse et d'humanité prise en conscience par le Président de la République.— Emmanuel Macron (
EmmanuelMacron) <a href="https://twitter.com/EmmanuelMacron/status/814160136407252992">December 28, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> Emmanuel Macron, former finance minister and current Presidential candidate, said “ I welcome the grace granted to J. Sauvage. It is a wise, conscious and humanitarian decision by the President of the Republic”. <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="fr" dir="ltr">Je salue la décision humaine du Président concernant Jacqueline Sauvage. Continuons à combattre les violences faites aux femmes.</p>— Manuel Valls (manuelvalls) December 28, 2016
Former Prime Minister and fellow Presidential candidate Manuel Valls said “ I welcome the humanitarian decision by the President concerning Jacqueline Sauvage. (We will) Continue to fight violence against women”.
#JacquelineSauvage : enfin ! Une bonne décision !— Florian Philippot (
f_philippot) <a href="https://twitter.com/f_philippot/status/814138209219256320">December 28, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> Even Florian Philippot, vice president of the National Front, praised what he called a “good decision”. <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="fr" dir="ltr">Grâce de Jacqueline Sauvage: "Hollande ne respecte pas l'institution judiciaire" <a href="https://t.co/8wizTyMGwx">https://t.co/8wizTyMGwx</a> <a href="https://t.co/35WKk0nLez">pic.twitter.com/35WKk0nLez</a></p>— L'Express (LEXPRESS) December 29, 2016
Some were less impressed by the decision, such as French newspaper L’Express, who said the pardon shows that “Hollande does not respect the judiciary”.
And even the president of the French Magistrates’ Union (USM) said the decision was “shocking”. Virginie Duval said that “It is not a good signal. We have a President who challeneges judicial decisions”. “It is a total violation of the court”, Duval added.