Page last updated at 09:44 GMT, Friday, 19 March 2010

French woman jailed for baby killings

Court sketch of Celine Lesage, 18 March 2010
Celine Lesage risked a life sentence

A court in Normandy, north-western France, has sentenced a 38-year-old woman to 15 years in prison for murdering six of her newborn babies.

Celine Lesage was accused of smothering four babies and strangling two others between 1999 and 2007.

She was arrested in 2007 when her partner found the decomposing corpses in the basement of their flat.

Before her sentencing on Thursday she repeated her admission that she had killed the infants.

"I want to understand but I can't," Lesage told the court in Coutances, Normandy.

Lesage reportedly claimed that she lived in fear of her ex-partner, who was father to five of the babies.

But investigators did not find that the man, Pascal Catherine, had a "domineering attitude", French news agency AFP reported.

The babies were discovered by a second partner, Luc Margueritte, the father of the sixth baby.

Lesage, who has a teenage son, could have received a life sentence, though prosecutors had asked for a 16-year jail term.

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