|Born||January 10, 1970|
|Location(s)||François Quesnay Hospital, Mantes-la-Jolie, Paris|
Christine Malèvre (born January 10, 1970) is a former nurse who 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.
While in questioning, Christine Malèvre originally admitted to assisting in the death of 30 terminally ill patients at François Quesnay Hospital in Mantes-la-Jolie on the outskirts of Paris, a statement which she later on recanted stating that she made the original confession under duress. Although being originally charged with the lesser charge of manslaughter, Malèvre’s charge was upgraded to that of murder following a report that stated that the nurse had a “morbid fascination” with death and disease, and that patients were three to four times more likely to die while during Mme. Malèvre’s duty periods in the advanced cancer ward. According to Olivier Morice, a lawyer for five patients’ families who had died in Malèvre’s care, the charge of murder came about because the judge had realized “we are dealing with a serial killer more than with a Madonna of euthanasia”. Prosecutors argued for this charge to be seen as a murder charge rather than manslaughter, because they believed Christine should be treated the same way as any other serial killer rather than a Madonna of euthanasia. Shortly after her release on bail, Malevre tried to commit suicide herself by overdosing on drugs, but was unsuccessful.
Malèvre went on trial in Versailles on 20 January 2003 on charges of murdering seven gravelly ill patients while working at François Quesnay Hospital between 1997 and 1998. She faced up to life in prison. Mme. Malèvre admitting to having killed four patients by injecting them with lethal doses of morphine, potassium or other various drugs, but denied being responsible for the other three deaths. She went on to state that her reason for lethally injecting these patients was due to the fact that the patients requested to die, and she helped them do so out of compassion. In a book she later penned called “My Confession”, Malèvre stated “I helped people to end their suffering and depart in peace. I did not kill. I am not a criminal.” Prosecutors on the other hand did not agree with this statement. Nicknamed The Black Widow by her colleagues, prosecutors told the court that Mme. Malèvre’s motives for ending the lives of these gravely ill patients were not out of the kindness of her own heart, but rather due to her morbid fascination with death and illness, and by killing these patients she was satisfying her sick compulsions. Families of the deceased also went on the record to agree with the prosecution that Malèvre killed for her own good not for the good of her patients, denying that their relatives had ever asked to die, statements which later on turned many of Mme. Malèvre’s supporters against her.
After a four-hour deliberation, Mme. Malèvre was sentenced to ten years of prison for the murder of six of the seven patients she had ‘assisted’ in killing. On top of this sentence, Christine Malèvre was also permanently banned from working as a nurse.
The arrest of Mme. Malèvre raised national debate over both the case, as well as the controversial topic of euthanasia in France, which does not allow euthanasia like its neighbors, Belgium and the Netherlands. France itself is divided between strong Roman Catholic hostility towards euthanasia, as well as mounting pressure from the liberals to decriminalize assisted suicide. This division of pro and con euthanasia is just as visible in the divide between those who supported Christine Malèvre’s actions and those who did not. After originally admitting to helping 30 gravelly-ill patients kill themselves, Malèvre received an outpouring of support from both the public and ministers. Malèvre received over 5,000 letters from the public showing support and appreciation for her acts of compassion, and Health minister Bernard Kouchner stated that everyone should avoid hasty moral judgement when it came to Malèvre’s case. The media was also generally sympathetic toward Malèvre, someone they described as a model nurse who was helping these terminally ill patients end their life of misery for the good of the patient. Despite this outpour of success, public opinion seemed to turn against Christine Malèvre when details of the case were leaked by judges and family members that stated the terminally-ill patients that Malèvre had ‘helped’ in ending their own lives neither wanted nor asked Malèvre to aid in their suicide. The main association that supports the right-to-die immediately dropped its support for Malèvre, and public opinion turned quickly against her to now support the prosecutor and lawyer’s opinion that Malèvre is not a Madonna of euthanasia and did not help her patients in any way, but rather is a serial killer who murdered these patients to satisfy her own dark compulsions.
- Sage, Adam. "'Mercy killer' on murder charges." Times [London, England] 16 June 1999: 14. Academic OneFile. Web. 7 Mar. 2014.
- "Paris euthanasia 'heroine' on trial for 7 murders." Times [London, England] 21 Jan. 2003: 15. Academic OneFile. Web. 7 Mar. 2014.
- "French nurse jailed in 6 deaths." New York Times 1 Feb. 2003: A4. Academic OneFile. Web. 7 Mar. 2014.