The oppressive descriptions of their tortures shake an entire country.
The start of one of the most sensational trials of the year in France: French woman Valérie Bacot (40) is charged with the murder of her stepfather and faces life imprisonment. But hundreds of thousands of French and their defenders are demanding an acquittal.
The act, which Bacot does not deny, happened in 2016: after years of raping and beating her stepfather, he eventually married her – and forced her into prostitution. In her recently published book “Tout le monde savait” (Everyone Knew It), Bacot wrote a sentence that any of her compatriots can relate to: “I had to end it.”
At the start of the trial before the jury in Chalon-sur-Saône (Eastern France), Bacot reported on the “extreme hell” she had suffered since she was twelve. It was then that her mother’s partner started raping her. Even after serving a prison sentence for the abuse, Daniel Polette continued. At 17, Bacot became pregnant for the first time by the 25-year-old man and married him after her mother had thrown her out of the house. Today she has four children from him.
“I always did what he told me,” replied the defendant when asked by the presiding judge Celine Therme whether she had felt love for Polette. The alcoholic beat, kicked and choked his young wife and finally offered her to truck drivers in the family car for prostitution in order to earn money with her.
On a Sunday in March 2016, she said she couldn’t take it anymore. She took his pistol, with which he had threatened her many times, and killed him with a single shot in the neck. As a justification, she said that she wanted to spare her 14-year-old daughter Karline the same fate.
Bacot faces life imprisonment and her lawyers are demanding an acquittal. Bacot had “experienced extreme violence for 25 years,” said her lawyer Janine Bonaggiunta. “That can drive a desperate woman to kill in order to survive on her own.”
Almost 600,000 people signed an online petition. The title is “Freedom for Valérie Bacot!”