why these “crimes without a motive” raise questions among experts

On Sunday, a woman was taken into police custody and two newborns were found in a freezer at her home in Val-de-Marne. Cases Courjot, Cottre… neo-Nacids continue to ask questions.

This is still known as the “frozen baby case”. In 2009, Véronique Courgeot, an Indre-et-Loire mother, was sentenced by a Tours jury to eight years in prison for killing three of her babies at birth and placing two in the family’s freezer.

At the time, from the time her husband, Jean-Louis Courjot, discovered the bodies in their home to the end of his trial, the case generated both admiration and horror in the media and public opinion.

This Sunday, a woman was taken into police custody after her companion discovered two newborns in the freezer of their home in Marolles-en-Brie, in Val-de-Marne. According to the first data of the investigation, which has not yet clarified the circumstances of the tragedy, these newborns could have been killed at birth.

The phenomenon “that has always existed”

If this is true, as investigators suspect, the news could fall into the category of “neonatocides.” For understanding: murders of newborns committed less than twenty-four hours after their birth. “It’s not a legal term, but it describes reality,” Marc Morin, who defended Véronique Courjot before a jury in 2009, told BFMTV.com on Monday.

While the average annual rate of newborn homicides is very difficult to estimate – pediatrician Ann Tours reported in 2010 that about twenty cases were taken to court, but this figure was largely underestimated – this phenomenon “has always existed,” says Mark Morin.

Pregnancy denial?

“This is a scheme in which a woman is pregnant physically, but not psychologically. And again, when a woman denies pregnancy, her baby is lying on her side, so she may not have a belly and continue to menstruate,” said a lawyer who describes himself as a “specialist” in these cases after being contacted in 2017 to protect another neonat-killing mother in Lorient along with her colleague Helene Delhomme.

Fifteen years separate the two cases, and their conclusions differ greatly, the lawyer points out: while Véronique Courjot was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison (she will end up serving only four years), Lorient, a client of My Delhommais and Morin, was finally, in October last year, she was declared insane, and therefore she was not tried, since the investigating judges found her denial of pregnancy to be pathological.

“This is an achievement, justice has been served. The judges recognized that pregnancy denial was such a powerful psychological mechanism that it could be pathological in itself, ”rejoices Me Mark Morin, who, however, admits that not all cases of murder of newborns are associated with denial and the fact that some women deliberately concealed your pregnancy.

Often complex paths and attitudes towards sexuality

If the Courjot case certainly remains the best-known case in the field, the eight-time infanticide committed by Dominique Cottreux in the North is an illustration of the most important phenomenon in Europe today. Between 1989 and 2000, Dominique Cottre strangled her children eight times at birth, with relatives not noticing her pregnancy due to her heavy build.

During the trial, the defendant claimed that she “had no other choice” than to kill the babies after realizing her pregnancy “too late”. Sentenced to nine years in prison in 2015, the guardian was released three years later.

Quite an introverted character, complex relationship with sexuality, complex family and personal history… When we look at the paths of these women, it is impossible not to notice the common points that connect them.

In a book on the subject, Inaudible Violence: Stories of InfanticideSociologist Julie Ansian notes that these mothers are often trapped in “complex configurations that force them to keep quiet and hide their pregnancy, in particular their isolation and exposure to various forms of violence, physical, sexual, psychological, economic.” she writes in this book, published by Editions du Seuil in February.

The sociologist, who has seen many of the mothers convicted of newborn murders to better analyze the phenomenon, points out that in most cases, the contraceptive availability argument is used against these women. In contrast, through the stories she collects, Julie Ansian shows that disparities persist in terms of access to care for women in financial precarious situations.

“Crimes without a motive”

According to Mark Morin, in their mind, the child is often nothing more than “a part of their body, not a child.”

“But they are not dangerous,” he analyzes. “They even go out of their way to get caught by putting the corpses in the family freezer or, in the case of my client from Lorient, writing her initials on the bag containing the babies.” deposited.”

Véronique Courjot, Dominique Cottret or, more recently, Audrey Chabot… Why are these cases so fascinating? “Because these are crimes without a motive,” Maureen told me.

“Monsters” or “Victims”

Whether they see them as “monsters” or evoke pity, these women evoke strong emotions in the general public every time. A phenomenon associated, according to the lawyer Veronique Courjot, with the evolution of a society that puts the protection of the child at the center of its interests, as well as its rights.

“In prison, they often have difficult prison conditions because they are considered child killers by other inmates. For a year before being released, my client from Lorient was subjected to insults and violence,” says Me Marc Morin.

However, “these women do not take pleasure in killing their children after they have carried them for nine months,” the lawyer says.

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