Man sentenced for ‘compassionate’ killing of his wife

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Elderly husband’s mercy killing ends in tragedy.

FRANCE, April 16: An 88-year-old retired teacher from the French island of Reunion has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for the killing of his ill wife and her in-house caretaker, according to a judicial source on Tuesday.

The man, whose identity has not been disclosed, claimed to have acted out of compassion due to his wife’s suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. However, prosecutors described him as “violent” and “authoritarian,” alleging that he ended his wife’s life in 2021 by striking her multiple times with a sledgehammer before attacking her caretaker upon arrival at the scene.

During the trial, the accused asserted that he experienced a “blackout” and had no memory of assaulting the second victim. The double murder occurred in Saint Joseph, located in the southern region of the Indian Ocean French overseas territory, in March 2021.

Prior to the verdict, the public prosecutor had demanded 25 years of imprisonment for the elderly husband.

Reunion, often referred to as La Reunion in French, has garnered attention for domestic violence incidents, ranking fourth in France in terms of the number of reported cases. Between 2006 and 2024, 52 women fell victim to femicide on the island.

Reunion, situated east of Madagascar, boasts a population of fewer than one million people.

This incident brings to light broader issues of domestic violence, echoing a case in France where a man was recently sentenced to 30 years in jail for burning his partner alive. The victim, Sandy Cucheval, suffered burns covering 70 percent of her body after being set ablaze while attempting to escape a vehicle. Her partner, Jonathan Boillet, initially denied involvement but later admitted to dousing her in petrol. Boillet claimed to have experienced a “blackout” during the attack but ultimately accepted responsibility for his actions during the trial.

The sentencing reflects ongoing efforts to address domestic violence and ensure justice for victims in both Reunion and mainland France.

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