Mother on trial for killing 8 of her babies

DOUAI (France) - A French housewife on trial for killing eight of her children at birth has told a court she had a normal childhood, but had battled obesity her whole life.

But Dominique Cottrez, a 51-year-old former health worker, did not delve into her relationship with her father on the opening day of her murder trial on Thursday in a northern French court.

She has claimed previously that the children were from an incestuous relationship with him. The court has put off questioning on her claims to later in the proceedings.

She is accused of suffocating eight of her babies between 1989 and 2000, shortly after secretly giving birth to them in the bathroom of her home near the Belgian border.

Cottrez weighed up to 130kg during her pregnancies, making them all but undetectable even for her doctors as well as her husband and two adult daughters who comforted her during the hearing.

She described growing up with a stern mother, a hardworking father and four siblings. "I had a normal childhood," she said.

But from a young age she struggled with her weight and was mocked by other children at school, she said.

Cottrez's path to court began in July 2010 when a new owner moved into her parents' home and unearthed the bodies of two infants buried in the garden.

Six more were later found in her own home.

Cottrez told investigators she feared the babies were born from a sexual relationship with her father that had taken place from her childhood until his death in 2007.

But tests show that all of the dead infants were fathered by her husband.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2015, with the headline 'Mother on trial for killing 8 of her babies'. Print Edition | Subscribe