The murder trial of a woman who killed her abusive husband began Monday in the French city of Burgundy.
In her hit book Tout Le Monde Savait (Everyone Knew) published in May, 40-year-old Valerie Bacot admitted to shooting Daniel Polette in self-defense in 2016. She faces a life sentence for murder.
“She is with that same weapon, in another forest one day and so that he would not kill us that I killed him,” wrote Bacot.
Bacot said Polette, 25 years her senior, first raped her when she was 12. At the time, Polette was her mother’s boyfriend, but Bacot refers to him as her stepfather in the book.
In 1996, Polette was convicted of the rape of a minor and spent two and a half years in prison, Bacot’s attorney, Nathalie Tomasini, told CNN.
Bacot wrote in her book that after Polette was freed, he began abusing her again and got her pregnant at the age of 17.
“One morning in the dining room she starts screaming because I haven’t put the baby’s toys away properly. She turns to me and slaps me hard without warning,” wrote Bacot, recalling one of the countless times Polette hit her.
Over the course of 18 years, Bacot and Polette had four children together, two of whom helped bury her father’s body after Bacot shot him. In 2019, they each received a 6-month suspended prison sentence for concealing a human corpse, Bacot’s attorney said.
During the course of the investigation, the children spoke about the relentless abuse her mother suffered at the hands of Polette. According to court documents, the court-appointed psychiatrist said Bacot was “clearly under Polette’s control.”
Bacot told police that Polette subjected her to repeated beatings and forced her to prostitute herself.
On multiple occasions, Polette allegedly told Bacot that if she left him, he would kill her and her children.
“Don’t worry: one day you’ll leave here,” Polette said when she first made such a threat, as Bacot recalls in her book.
“But it will be the feet first, and the children too!”
The prosecutor has said that Polette’s murder was premeditated; Bacot’s lawyers deny it.
Advocates launched a petition online not to jail Bacot in January, which has so far received more than 580,000 signatures.
The trial is expected to last five days.
Bacot’s case is reminiscent of Jacqueline Sauvage, a French woman who was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being found guilty of fatally shooting her husband three times in the back with a hunting rifle in 2012, just a day later. of his son hanging himself. After serving three years behind bars, Sauvage was released from prison in 2016 when then-President Francois Hollande granted her a pardon.
NGOs have been raising the alarm about femicides in France. This year alone, 43 women have lost their lives at the hands of their partners or husbands, according to the advocacy group “Feminicides par compagnon ou ex,” compared to 90 women in 2020, according to French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti. The French Ministry of the Interior registered 146 femicides in 2019.