A FRENCH court yesterday sentenced serial killer Michel Fourniret and his wife to life in prison for the murder of seven girls and young women.
In one of France’s most gruesome cases in recent years, the jury ordered the couple, described by prosecutors as a “devil with two faces”, to spend the rest of their days behind bars.
A 66-year-old machine operator, Fourniret showed no emotion as he stood before the presiding judge who read out the verdict at the end of the two-month trial in the northeast town of Charleville-Mezieres.
He received life imprisonment without possibility of parole. His lawyer has said he would not appeal.
Monique Olivier, 59, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 28 years without parole for helping lure victims to satisfy her husband’s sexual obsessions.
She listened quietly to the judgement as she stood alongside Fourniret in the courtroom’s glass enclosure for defendants.
The parents and families of the victims, seated in the first row of the public gallery, held white roses and pictures of their loved ones.
Dubbed the “Ogre of the Ardennes”, Fourniret has admitted to the kidnap, rape and murder of seven young girls and women between 1987 and 2001.
Prosecutors argued Olivier, a former nurse, helped Fourniret trap his victims, who were aged between 12 and 22. They were shot, strangled or stabbed to death.
In a final address to the court, Fourniret delivered a 15-minute diatribe — partly written in verse — against the prosecution and described his wife as “a poor woman incapable of harming anyone.”
Olivier, charged in the murder of one of the young women and complicity in three others said: “I regret everything that I have done.”
During the trial, the jury heard Fourniret admit he had a sexual obsession with virgins and described being in an “altered state” when killing his victims.
“I remain an extremely dangerous individual,” Fourniret told the court.
Lawyers for Olivier sought to portray their client as the terrorised wife of a domineering and violent husband.
But state prosecutor Xavier Lenoir described her as a willing accomplice, saying she displayed a “deafening silence” to the screams of girls being raped by her husband.
Olivier testified she and Fourniret would reproduce scenes from their crimes during sexual intercourse.
Fourniret met Olivier in the 1980s while he was serving time in jail on sexual assault charges. She responded to an ad he had placed for a pen pal. Letters seized by investigators showed Fourniret had made a pact with Olivier that in exchange for the murder of her first husband — who was never actually killed — she would find him virgins to satisfy his obsession.
Olivier denied such a pact ever existed.
The court heard a coroner provide evidence suggesting Fourniret sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl after stabbing her to death in 1990.
Describing Fourniret as a “necrophiliac monster”, state prosecutor Francis Nachbar had called for a maximum sentence of life in prison for Fourniret, with no possibility of parole.
Lawyers for Olivier urged the jury to draw a distinction between her and Fourniret, arguing she had no criminal record prior to meeting him, and sought life imprisonment with no possibility of parole for 30 years.
The trial also laid bare some of the mistakes by police that allowed Fourniret to elude arrest for years, both in France and across the border in Belgium where he operated.
The couple was finally arrested in 2003 when a Belgian teenage girl managed to escape from Fourniret’s vehicle and went to police.
Fourniret faces charges in three other cases including the 1990 murder of Joanna Parrish, a 20-year-old British woman who worked in the central French city of Auxerre.
The murder victims were Isabelle Laville, 17, Fabienne Leroy, 20, Jeanne-Marie Desramault, 22, Elisabeth Brichet, 12, Natacha Danais, 13, Celine Saison, 18, and Mananya Thumphong, 13.
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