Christine Malèvre (born 1970) is a French
A former nurse, she was arrested in 1998 on
suspicion of having killed as many as 30 patients. She confessed to
some of the murders, but claimed she had done so at the request of the
patients, who were all terminally ill. France, however, does not
recognize a "right to die", and Malèvre eventually recanted most of
her confessions. The families of several of her victims strongly
denied that their relatives had expressed any will to die, much less
asked Malèvre to kill them.
She was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2003,
for the murders of six patients, then to 12 years in appeal.
Christine Malevre (4-30)
On July 25, 1998, Christine Malèvre, after
attempting to kill herself, confessed to helping about 30 patients to
die at François Quesnay Hospital in Mantes-la-Jolie on the outskirts
Since then nurse Malèvre, 29, has become a symbol
for the growing civil movement in France in favour of joining The
Netherlands in legalising euthanasia. However, the decision to press
murder charges against her follows a psychiatric report which said the
nurse had a "morbid fascination" with death and disease. Another
report showed that patients were three times as likely to die when Mme
Malèvre was on duty.
"The judge has realised that we are dealing with a
serial killer more than with a Madonna of euthanasia," Olivier Morice,
a lawyer for five patients' families told the newspaper Le Parisien.
But Mme Malèvre, who recanted her first confession and now admits to
only four cases, has received 5,000 letters of support.
The deaths date back to January 1997. Her alleged
victims, aged between 72 and 88, were all in the terminal phase of
incurable lung diseases, and had apparently been put to death at their
own request or that of relatives. None of the patients' families has
pressed charges. The sources said the nurse was questioned as the
result of an inquiry by hospital officials surprised at the abnormal
number of deaths in the pneumology department of the hospital.
French Nurse Jailed in 6 Deaths
February 1, 2003
VERSAILLES, France, Jan. 31 (Reuters) — A French
nurse who said she helped the terminally ill die out of compassion was
sentenced today to 10 years in prison for the deaths of six hospital
The nurse, Christine Malèvre, had been charged with
the murder of seven patients at a lung hospital in Mantes-la-Jolie
near Paris in 1997 and 1998. She faced life in prison.
Ms. Malèvre's case sparked energetic debate on
euthanasia in France, a predominantly Roman Catholic country, after
she initially said she had helped about 30 terminally ill patients end
Later, however, she said she had helped only two
patients die at their requests. Ms. Malèvre, 33, spoke of accidents
involving two others, and she denied responsibility for the death of
"These cases shatter the legend of Christine
Malèvre as an angel of mercy bringing relief to patients at the end of
their life," the counsel for the prosecution, Alain Junillon said,
rejecting her insistence that she acted out of compassion.
Families of her victims also denied their relatives
had asked to die.
Ms. Malèvre, who has written a book about the
incidents titled "My Confessions," was sentenced after a four-hour
deliberation. On top of the prison sentence, she was permanently
banned from working as a nurse.
"Christine Malèvre is neither the Madonna of
euthanasia nor a serial killer. She is just a nurse who let her
compassion rule her," her lawyer, Charles Libman, said after the
Unlike the Netherlands and Belgium, France does not
allow euthanasia. However, a number of French doctors come forward
told the court they had helped patients with incurable diseases die.
French 'Madonna of euthanasia' jailed
January 31, 2003
A female nurse has been sentenced to 10 years in
prison for the murder of six hospital patients, in a case which has
rekindled the euthanasia debate in France.
Christine Malevre, 33, was found guilty of assisting or causing the
deaths of the patients, who were terminally ill, at a lung hospital in
a Paris suburb.
She was also banned for life from the nursing
profession, but was acquitted of a seventh count of murder.
Malevre is originally said to have admitted helping
about 30 terminally ill patients to die but later confessed to just
She claims she acted out of compassion and was
merely helping to end people's suffering.
Prosecutors had asked for a minimum sentence of 10
"If Christine Malevre had been tried for killing
seven people in good health, we'd be far from 10 years and closer to
life in prison," said Olivier Morice, representing the families of
three of the victims.
Defence lawyer Charles Libmann said before the
verdict that other doctors and nurses had committed euthanasia without
being brought to trial.
But families of several of the deceased deny that
their relatives had asked to die, and some campaign groups which
support voluntary euthanasia have not backed Malevre's case.
Psychiatrists who examined her concluded that she
had a "morbid fascination with illness" and was aware of what she was
"Christine Malevre is not the Madonna of euthanasia
she makes herself out to be, but on the contrary a woman who is
unbalanced and who deliberately overstepped her authority," Mr Morice
told French television during the trial.
Ms Malevre worked at the Francois-Quesnay hospital
in the Paris suburb of Mantes-la-Jolie from February 1997 to May 1998.
In July 1998 she was arrested after an
investigation into suspicious deaths at the hospital.
She initially admitted to helping 30 patients to
die, though her lawyer said that at the time she was under the
influence of neuroleptic drugs.
She was charged with manslaughter and released
pending her trial, but later admitted to just four deaths, of which
she said one was "accidental".
On the basis of psychiatric reports, the charges
against her were upgraded to murder.
In the final report, 11 suspicious deaths were
recorded, but in four of these there was insufficient evidence to
Paris -- A court in
Versailles sentenced French nurse Christine Malevre to 10 years in
The sentence reflected public prosecutor Alain
Junillon's recommendation against 33-year-old Malevre, indicted for
having killed six seriously ill patients under her care between 1997
and 1998, at a suburban Paris hospital.
The court did not hold her responsible for the
death of a seventh patient, due to lack of evidence. But Malevre was
banned from practicing nursing.
The nurse sat stony-faced as the verdict was read,
but later began to cry.
There was no immediate reaction from Malevre's
lawyer, or from the families of victims who originally brought the
charges against her.
The Malevre saga has riveted the nation, since the
nurse confessed in 1998 to ending the lives of more than two dozen ill
and dying people under her care. At the time, she justified her
actions as mercy killings. Malevre amended the statement a few months
later, saying she had killed four dying patients, but only at their
Despite the conflicting accounts, the Malevre case
rekindled arguments to legalize euthanasia in France. In the past two
years, Netherlands and Belgium have legalized euthanasia under
stringent conditions. Switzerland has legalized assisted suicide and
several other European countries have dealt lightly regarding one or
the other procedure.
Unlike assisted suicide, in which a person is given
drugs or other means to kill himself, euthanasia requires a person --
usually a medical practitioner -- to end another person's life. Both
practices are banned in France and euthanasia carries a sentence of up
to 30 years in prison.
The Malevre trial is one of only several recent
incidents refueling the euthanasia debate in France.
In early January, a separate French court handed
only a 2-year suspended prison sentence to Elie Bendayan for shooting
his wife to death. Bendayan's wife suffered from Alzheimer's, and the
former police officer described the killing as an act of love.
In December, the mother of former French Prime
Minister Lionel Jospin -- and a pro-euthanasia activist -- committed
Also in December, a 21-year-old man, who was
blinded and paralyzed from a car accident, pleaded with President
Jacques Chirac to be able to end his life legally.
A December poll also found 88 percent of French
supported legalizing euthanasia, under certain conditions. But French
Health Minister, Dr. Jean-Francois Mattei, is adamantly opposed to
euthanasia, calling it "the wrong answer to questions of suffering,
solitude and abandonment."
During the 2-week trial, Malevre was variously
labeled a serial killer and a nurse with a gift and compassion in
dealing with the sick.
Benoit Chabert, a lawyer representing the family of
one of Malevre's patients, described the nurse with a "perverted"
relationship with her patients and a "morbid fascination" with death.
But one of Malevre's nursing professors described
her as a talented student, who may have been faced with a situation
she couldn't handle.
Despite the Malevre verdict, pro-euthanasia
activists argue the trial helped highlight the problem of clandestine
mercy killings, which they argue occur regularly in French hospitals.
"It's exactly this type of action we are fighting
against," said Edith Deyris, secretary general of the Paris-based
Association for the Right to Die in Dignity, referring to the Malevre
killings. "We want transparency. We want a realization and concerted
action within hospitals -- based on written demands of patients who
want to die."
"In other words," Deyris added in an interview,
"the complete opposite of the shadows and impreciseness we found
ourselves with the trial of Christine Malevre."
French nurse kills teminally ill
patients to end their suffering