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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 February, 2005, 18:24 GMT
French unborn death 'not a crime'
Laci Peterson
The murder of Laci Peterson and her unborn child led to a new US law
A French appeals court has ruled that a man responsible for the death of a pregnant woman in a car accident was not guilty of a double crime.

Florinda Braganca was killed instantly when the car she was driving was struck by 30-year-old Kevin Germon's van on a motorway in October 2003.

Her husband said Germon should be sentenced for double manslaughter.

But the court upheld a lower court ruling that an unborn child could not be considered the victim of a crime.

Mrs Braganca, 34, was 22 weeks pregnant when she died.

Laci's law

Germon was sentenced to a year in jail for the manslaughter of Mrs Braganca.

Tests found cannabis in his blood at the time of the accident.

The prosecution said that the law should recognise that the future baby was "a human being from the moment of conception".

The high-profile case was backed by the region's chief prosecutor, Madeleine Simoncello, who said the lower court had too rigidly applied the law.

She had called for the prison sentence to be increased to two or three years.

In the US, a landmark case of a man convicted of murdering his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson and their unborn child, Conner, led to the introduction of a new law protecting the rights of foetuses.

The Unborn Victims of Violence Act - also known as Laci and Conner's Law - defines a violent attack on a pregnant woman as two distinct crimes.

Her husband was sentenced to death for the double murder.

A case that has shocked and captivated America

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