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President François Hollande has pardoned a woman jailed last month for murdering her husband after 40 years of violence, including the persistent rape of their daughters. Jacqueline Sauvage, 68 was
married for 47 years to Norbert Marot, a violent alcoholic whom she said raped and beat her and her three daughters and also abused her son.

On September 10, 2012, the day after her son hanged himself, Ms Sauvage shot her husband three times in the back with a rifle. She became a symbol of the scourge of domestic violence in France since she lost her appeal against her conviction for murder in December.

More than 400,000 people have signed a petition calling on the president to use his seldom-employed presidential right of pardon. After meeting Ms Sauvage’s 3 daughters and her lawyers, the president pardoned her.

Ms Sauvage has twice been found guilty by juries of murdering her husband. An appeal court hearing last month rejected her lawyers’ argument that she was acting in self-defense after more than four decades of physical and sexual abuse.

The appeal court jury decided – like that of a lower court in 2014 – that her killing of her husband was “disproportionate” because her life was not threatened at the time that she seized his hunting rifle. She was jailed for 10 years.

Both trials heard evidence that Ms Sauvage had been repeatedly beaten and sexually abused by her husband. Their three daughters said that their father had often raped them. Both Ms Sauvage and her daughters said they lived in such terror that they did not dare to go to the police.

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A petition signed by 400,000 people described the Sauvage case as “symptomatic” of hidden domestic violence. On average, 134 French women are killed by their husbands or male partners each year.

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