Page last updated at 04:27 GMT, Thursday, 29 May 2008 05:27 UK

Life sentence for French killer

Michel Fourniret and his wife Monique Olivier during the court case

A 66-year-old man has been sentenced to life in prison by a French court for murdering seven girls and young women.

Michel Fourniret, dubbed the "Ogre of the Ardennes", had admitted kidnapping and killing his victims between 1987 and 2001.

It is one of France's biggest serial killing cases in decades.

The court in Charleville-Mezieres also gave his wife Monique Olivier a life sentence for complicity. She helped trap the victims.

Olivier, 59, must serve at least 28 years of her prison term, the court said.

The seven victims - most of whom were raped - were aged between 12 and 22. They were shot, strangled, or stabbed to death.

Most were killed in the Ardennes region of northern France and in Belgium.

Fourniret would spot a potential victim while driving and stop to ask for directions, then persuade them to get into his car.

Francis Brichet, father of Elisabeth, murdered at the age of 12 in 1989
Isabelle Laville: Kidnapped in 1987 in Auxerre, central France, aged 17, and raped; body found in 2000
Fabienne Leroy: Kidnapped and raped in Chalons-en-Champagne, eastern France, in 1988 aged 20; found next day
Jeanne-Marie Desramault: Kidnapped in Charleville-Mezieres in 1989, aged 22; found in 2004 at Fourniret's former property
Elisabeth Brichet (in picture above, held by father Francis): Abducted in Namur, Belgium, in 1989, aged 12; found in 2004 at Fourniret's former property
Natacha Danais: Kidnapped in 1990 near Nantes, western France, aged 13; found three days later on nearby beach
Celine Saison: Kidnapped in Charleville-Mezieres in 2000, aged 18, and raped; found three months later in Belgium
Mananya Thumphong: Abducted in 2001 in Sedan, north-east France, aged 13, and raped; found in Belgium in 2002

His wife's presence in the vehicle was designed to help reassure the victim, according to the prosecution.

Fourniret was arrested in Belgium in 2003 after an attempt to kidnap a 13-year-old girl, who managed to run away.

Correspondents say the court proceedings failed to unlock Fourniret's personality and motives.

Although he admitted the murders, he refused to co-operate further during the two-month trial.

Marie-Jeanne Laville, the mother of 17-year-old Isabelle who was raped and killed in 1987, told AFP news agency she was "very satisfied" with the verdict.

"I can breathe again," she said.

Fourniret - who in court described himself as "an extremely dangerous individual" - said he would not appeal against his sentence.

He is suspected of kidnapping, raping and murdering British teaching assistant Joanna Parrish, 20, in 1990 while she was working in the French town of Auxerre.

He is also being investigated over the kidnap and murder of Marie-Angele Domece, a 19-year-old disabled woman from France.

He denies involvement in either woman's death.

But Roger Parrish and Pauline Sewell, Joanna Parrish's parents, issued a statement after the verdict was announced.

"This is not the final chapter in our quest for justice for Joanna; we must wait to see if Fourniret is to be charged in connection with her death," they said.

French 'serial killer' on trial
27 Mar 08 |  Europe

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