Paris: A woman who killed her abusive husband and became a symbol of the suffering of France’s domestic violence victims walked free from prison on Wednesday after receiving a presidential pardon.
President Francois Hollande granted the pardon because he “considered that (Jacqueline) Sauvage’s place was no longer in prison but with her family,” the president’s office said in a statement earlier.
Sauvage, 69, was serving a 10-year sentence at a jail southeast of Paris for shooting her husband Norbert Marot dead a day after their son hanged himself in 2012.
A police source said a car seen leaving the prison was carrying Sauvage and three family members. Hordes of journalists were on hand, but the car did not stop.
Sauvage’s daughter Carole Marot told French radio earlier that she was on her way to the prison. “I’m crying, it’s wonderful,” she said. “Endless thanks to the president.”
One of her lawyers, Nathalie Tomasini, said today she was “overcome by joy and emotion” over the pardon.
The case, a cause celebre in France, has seen many twists and turns since Sauvage shot her husband three times in the back.
Sauvage testified that she endured 47 years of violence including sexual assault at the hands of Marot.
Her three daughters testified against their father, saying they too were beaten and raped.
Feminist groups, celebrities and politicians rallied behind her, with a petition gathering nearly 436,000 signatures.
Hollande accorded Sauvage a partial pardon in January this year for killing Marot, a violent alcoholic who she said raped her and her daughters.
The gesture allowed Sauvage to seek provisional release through the courts, but these efforts failed, with an appeal court saying she had not shown sufficient remorse.
Sauvage was found guilty of murder in 2012, a verdict that was upheld on appeal in 2015.
The French president’s power to commute or suspend prison terms was enshrined in the constitution in 1958.
Under a 2008 reform, the president may no longer decree blanket pardons, just individual ones.