Jacqueline Sauvage: French president frees woman who killed her husband after decades of abuse

Norbert Marot was described as violent alcoholic who raped and beat his wife and their three daughters

A 68-year-old French woman jailed for 10 years for murdering her husband after nearly 50 years of rape and violent abuse is set to be freed, after President Francois Hollande intervened following a public outcry.

Jacqueline Sauvage, of Montargis in central France, shot her husband Norbert Marot three times in the back with his own hunting rifle in September 2012, the day after their son hanged himself.

She described Marot as violent alcoholic who raped and beat her and their three daughters and also abused their son.

After an appeal against an earlier conviction, Ms Sauvage was found guilty in December and given a 10-year-sentence.

But then more than 400,000 people, who signed a petition, politicians on the left and right, and Mr Hollande’s former partner, Valérie Trierweiler, all called on the president to use his right to pardon convicted criminals.

The power is seldom used in France, but the president’s office said it had been decided to waive the remainder of Ms Sauvage’s sentence, stopping short of an actual pardon.

“In the face of an exceptional human situation, the president wanted to make it possible for Madame Savage to quickly return to her family while respecting judicial authorities,” a presidential spokesperson told the Associated Press.

The decision allows her to “immediately seek conditional freedom,” the spokesperson added.

Actress Anny Duperey told the iTele TV station that she was “infinitely relieved for her”.

Conservative politician Valerie Boyer said Ms Sauvage had become “an emblem because an injustice was done”.

Ms Sauvage’s daughters, Sylvie, Carole and Fabienne, had explained that the family suffered the violence in silence because they were too humiliated to seek help and terrified of what Marot would do.

In the court hearings, defence lawyers tried to argue that Ms Sauvage’s killing of her husband was self-defence. But the appeal court jury decided her actions were “disproportionate” because her life had not been in danger at the time.

During his election campaign in 2012, Mr Hollande had suggested he would not use presidential pardons, saying they belonged to “a different concept of power”.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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