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French murderer walks free after presidential pardon

A 69-year-old woman has returned home after being freed four years into her 10-year murder sentence. Jacqueline Sauvage, who murdered her abusive husband, was granted clemency by French President Francois Hollande.

Jacqueline Sauvage was seen leaving the prison with three family members on Wednesday following the pardon by French President Francois Hollande.

The clemency was awarded because Holande "considered that (Jacqueline) Sauvage's place was no longer in prison but with her family," his office said in a statement.

Her three daughters made a much-publicized bid for a rare pardon supported by an online petition signed by more than 380,000 people.

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. The verdict was upheld on appeal in 2015 and she has spent four years behind bars.

During her trial, the court was told how she had endured 47 years of violence including sexual assault at the hands of Marot.

Their daughters also claimed they'd been abused by their father, who had never been convicted.

Family overjoyed

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 Wednesday she was "overcome by joy and emotion" over the pardon.

A partial pardon was granted in January this year, which allowed Sauvage to seek provisional release through the courts.  However her attempts failed with an appeal court ruling that she had not shown sufficient remorse. The full clemency wasn't awarded until Wednesday.

Sauvage is one of only two people to have benefited from a presidential pardon from Hollande. In 2013 he granted a sentence reduction to allow Philippe El Shennawy, then France's longest-serving prisoner, to be freed on parole after 38 years in jail.

The French presidential pardon, which does not quash actual convictions that are the responsibility of the courts, has been limited to individual cases since 2008, after in the past being used to waive en masse minor sanctions such as driving fines.

Watch video 04:59

France: Pardon for abused murderer

mm/kms (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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