Verdict expected on husband and wife 'serial killers'

A court is expected to reach a verdict today on a couple accused of the kidnapping, rape and murder of seven girls, in one of France’s biggest serial killing cases.

Prosecutors want maximum life sentences for husband and wife Michel Fourniret and Monique Olivier, who are said to have hunted for young virgins to rape and kill in crimes allegedly committed in France and Belgium from 1987 to 2003.

The lead prosecutor called Olivier “a witch”, while Fourniret’s own defence lawyer described him yesterday as “indefensible”. Fourniret refused counsel and remained silent through most of the trial that began on March 27.

The verdict by the criminal court in Charleville-Mezieres, near the Belgian border, is expected this afternoon. Lawyers for the two have said they do not plan to appeal if convicted.

Fourniret, 66, is charged with kidnapping, rape and murder. The victims, aged from 12 to 21, were strangled, shot or stabbed with a screwdriver.

During the trial, he sought to toy with the court, and victims’ relatives and friends. For weeks during the proceedings, he kept silent, but then agreed to speak in mid-May – only to then clam up again.

Defence lawyer Pierre Blocquaux said yesterday that Fourniret did not want to be defended by his lawyers “because he is indefensible” – but added that he deserved counsel despite “the horrible nature of his acts”.

Olivier, 59, is accused of carrying out one of the murders along with Fourniret, and of complicity in several others. Prosecutors say she helped him track down virgins for him to rape and kill.

Prosecutor Francis Nachbar has sought life sentences and, in a particularly severe request for a French court, asked the court to deny Fourniret any possibility for parole for at least 30 years.

Belgian police detained Fourniret in June 2003 after his bungled kidnapping of a 13-year-old girl.

The girl gave authorities his car registration number after she managed to unbind her hands and escape from the back of Fourniret’s van.

Belgium extradited Olivier to France in 2005 and Fourniret in 2006. Judicial officials in both countries decided the case should be tried in France because six of the victims were French citizens.

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