French serial killer couple handed life sentences
CHARLEVILLE-MEZIERES, France (AP) -- A French court has convicted Michel Fourniret of murdering seven girls and young women and sentenced him to life in prison.
Michael Fourniret, who has been described as "indefensible" by his own lawyer, has been sentenced to life in jail.
His wife, Monique Olivier, has been convicted of complicity in some of the killings and sentenced to life in prison. Fourniret is 66 and his wife is 59.
The verdict Wednesday closes a two-month trial that riveted France and neighboring Belgium, where one of the victims was killed.
The young women aged 12 to 21 were either strangled, shot or stabbed with a screwdriver between 1987 and 2001 to feed what prosecutors called his obsession for virgins.
Lawyers for the couple had earlier said they wouldn't appeal if they were convicted by the criminal court in Charleville-Mezieres, near the Belgian border.
The lead prosecutor called Olivier "a witch," while Fourniret's own defense lawyer described him Tuesday as "indefensible." Fourniret refused counsel and remained silent through most of the trial that began March 27.
During the trial, he appeared 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.
Defense lawyer Pierre Blocquaux said Tuesday that Fourniret did not want to be defended by his lawyers "because he is indefensible" -- but added that he deserved counsel no matter what "the horrible nature of his acts" was.
Olivier, 59, was 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 forbid 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 license plate 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.
Investigators suspect Fourniret may also have been involved in several other murders.
The case has drawn comparisons with that of Belgium's notorious pedophile Marc Dutroux, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2004 for a series of child kidnappings, rapes and murders.