Mother jailed for killing son, 3

Monday, 19 July, 2004

By David Willey
BBC, Rome

Franzoni's husband
Franzoni's husband has always maintained his wife's innocence
A 33-year-old Italian mother has been sentenced to 30 years in jail for bludgeoning to death her three-year-old son, a crime she has always denied.

The apparently motiveless killing took place over two years ago in a family chalet in the Alpine village of Cogne.

It has gripped Italians from the day it was first reported.

Shockingly for a country where the figure of La Mama is almost a sacred icon, Anna Maria Franzoni was the first and only murder suspect.

She had alerted police to the killing after accompanying her elder child to the school bus stop on a winter's morning in 2002.

She told investigators she had been out of the house for only minutes.

When she returned the toddler was dying.

'Bungled' inquiry

Later, Anna Maria's blood-soaked pyjamas were found by police next to the body of her son.

It was never established for certain whether she had been wearing them at the time of the murder.

Vital forensic evidence was destroyed by police who allegedly bungled their investigation of the crime.

Since the death of her son, Anna Maria has had a third child.

She has consistently denied killing her son.

A guilty verdict was delivered after a single day's court hearing in camera by a judge in Aosta - an Alpine town near the border with France.

The defence opted for a fast-track procedure to avoid the lengthy proceedings common in most Italian criminal trials.

The judge said he was forced to hand down the maximum sentence as there were no attenuating circumstances.

One of Italy's top lawyers, who defended Anna Maria Franzoni, said he was stunned by the verdict and would be lodging an appeal.