A woman who killed her husband in 2012 was released Wednesday after receiving a full pardon from the president of France, the BBC reports. According to the Guardian, 69-year-old Jacqueline Sauvage shot her husband three times in the back with a hunting rifle the day after their son killed himself. Sauvage says she had been physically abused by her husband for 47 years; she says her son was also abused, and two of her three daughters say they had been sexually abused. Sauvage was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2014. But Sauvage became a symbol in France, where rates of domestic violence are higher than in Europe as a whole, the New York Times reports. Dozens of politicians supported her, and more than 430,000 people signed a petition calling for her release.
Last January, French President Francois Hollande issued a partial pardon of Sauvage, allowing her to seek parole. But courts twice refused to grant it. This month, Sauvage's daughters sent a letter to Hollande, and he granted Sauvage a full pardon Wednesday. Two hours later, she was seen leaving prison. One of Sauvage's daughters offered "infinite thanks to the president," and Sauvage's lawyer says the pardon is a "very strong message ... to all women victims of domestic violence." But magistrates are left wondering why Hollande didn't just offer a full pardon months ago to avoid essentially overruling the courts. The head of the magistrates union accuses him of acting "to please public opinion" and making a "deplorable" decision that "challenges the functioning of our institutions."