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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 April 2007, 03:46 GMT 04:46 UK
Italian court backs murder guilt
Anna Maria Franzoni. File photo
Franzoni remains free, pending her final appeal
An Italian appeals court has upheld the conviction of a mother on charges of killing her three-year-old son in 2002 - a crime she has always denied.

The court in Turin, however, reduced a 30-year-prison term given to Anna Maria Franzoni in 2004 to 16 years.

Franzoni's son, Samuele Lorenzi, was found bludgeoned to death in a family chalet in the Alpine village of Cogne, near Turin.

The case shocked Italy, where the role of the mother is still sacrosanct.

Franzoni's lawyers say she will now appeal to Italy's Supreme Court.

Blood-soaked pyjamas

Franzoni was the first and only murder suspect.

She had alerted police to the killing after accompanying her elder child to the school bus stop on 30 January 2002.

She told investigators she had been out of the house for only minutes and when she returned the toddler was dying.

Later, Franzoni's blood-soaked pyjamas were found by police next to the body of her son.

It was never established for certain whether she had been wearing them at the time of the murder.

When it emerged that Samuele's own mother was the sole suspect, Italians were beside themselves, the BBC's Mark Duff in Milan says.

The role of the mother is still sacrosanct in Italy, and children - especially little boys - still take pride of place in the affection of many Italians, our correspondent says.

'Media celebrity'

Worse - in the eyes of her detractors - Franzoni hardly shunned the limelight, he adds.

Before her original trial - and freed pending appeal after her conviction - she became a media celebrity, happily posing for magazine covers, taking part in TV talk shows and even employing her own public relations consultant to massage her image.

Italians were divided between those who could not believe a mother could do such a thing as kill her own child, and those who thought her tears came too conveniently and found her enigmatic smile and apparent coldness more than a touch disturbing.

The Italian justice system being what it is, Franzoni remains free - pending the final appeal to the supreme court, our correspondent says.


SEE ALSO
Country profile: Italy
07 Jul 04 |  Country profiles

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