Wednesday, June 10, 2009

'Freezer baby' trial begins in France

In July 2006, two dead babies were found in a freezer by a French resident of Sorae Village in Seocho-gu, Seoul, as this article explains (read the related articles for more information). This was quite a strange and sensational case in Korea when it occurred (unsurprisingly). As it turned out, it was the man's wife who secretly gave birth to, and killed the babies, but as they were in France by that time, the French police took over the investigation. After almost three years, on Tuesday her trial began in Tours, France:
A 41-year-old Frenchwoman went on trial for a grisly infanticide on Tuesday after confessing to killing three newborn babies and hiding two corpses in the freezer of her expat home in South Korea. In a case that has gripped France, Veronique Courjault, faces life in jail after admitting killing two baby boys born secretly in Seoul in 2002 and 2003, and a third child born in France in 1999.[...]

Jean-Louis Courjault, 42, who was kept in the dark about his wife's pregnancies and was cleared last year of any involvement in the crime, has stood by her side since her confession in 2006. [...]

In July 2006, Jean-Louis Courjault stumbled on the bodies of two babies, wrapped in plastic bags, in the freezer in their home in Seoul, after going downstairs to put some fish in the icebox. After informing South Korean police of the gruesome find, he was allowed to return to France, where his wife and sons were spending their summer holidays.

Standing side by side, both parents at first insisted they had no idea who the infants were, but in October, after DNA tests showed they were the parents, Veronique Courjault admitted to the murders.
According to this and this article, Korean police had DNA test results within days of the discovery of the bodies, but, as this article discussing Le Monde columnist Laurent Greilsamer's thoughts on the case, French society was skeptical of Korean police work and DNA tests:
“There are also scornful glances. For several months, we have cast them in the direction of South Korea. We, too, did not want to see. We, too, did not want to understand what the experts in Seoul said, explained and proved to us. Who is ‘we’? It encompasses the police, justice, lawyers, the media and what is called public opinion,” he wrote.

“After the ‘freezer babies’ case emerged in Seoul in July, we behaved as if South Korea, the world’s twelfth-largest economy, were a dictatorship that fabricates evidence to take foreign nationals hostage,” the writer said. “It took our own DNA test for us to accept the evidence from Seoul as it is."
Not that the Chosun Ilbo was gleefully translating those parts of that column, though. I've never looked into how France is treated in the Korean media, though in English you do see the occasional article translated about the records and artifacts French forces took from Ganghwa Island during their 1866 campaign, and how they haven't been returned.

Read the rest of the article for more information about the case; the trial runs until June 17.

No comments: