Couple in custody after 8 dead babies found in plastic bags
Infants' corpses buried in village in northern France
A French couple was expected to appear in court Thursday after police found the corpses of eight newborn babies in a village in northern France.
A judicial official said the corpses were found in two places in Villers-au-Tertre, a village of about 700 people not far from the city of Lille.
"Two people are being held in custody. They are the mother and father of the children," public prosecutor Eric Vaillant told Reuters.
French newspaper Le Figaro reported two of the bodies had been hidden for more than 20 years.
"What is certain is that the new born babies all had the same parents. They were stuffed inside plastic bags and then buried," an unnamed detective told the U.K.'s Daily Mail.
They were being held on suspicion of concealment of a corpse and failing to report a crime, the BBC said, adding that the couple were due to appear in court Thursday.
The couple had two grown-up daughters, reportedly in their 20s, and were grandparents, a local resident told Agence France Presse.
'Wouldn't harm a fly'
One teenage girl said the couple's daughters were nice girls and described the mother as a simple, quiet woman "who wouldn't harm a fly," AFP reported.
"These are attractive, helpful, polite and courteous people," a neighbor, a man in his 50s, told the news service.
They had done nothing to suggest that they might be capable of abnormal behavior, he said. "The husband was even elected to the town council," he added.
Radio France International said the man worked in the building trade was and his wife was a nursing assistant.
Police cordoned off the house with yellow-and-black tape and the house stood with doors and windows shuttered Wednesday night. The prosecutor for the Nord region was planning a news conference Thursday.
An initial report by French radio that the mother had admitted to "systematically" killing her babies without telling her husband was later rejected by a police source, the U.K's Guardian newspaper said.
France has seen a string of cases in recent years of mothers killing their newborns and saving and hiding the corpses.
In one case, Celine Lesage was sentenced in March to 15 years in prison after acknowledging in court that she killed six of her newborns, whose corpses were found in plastic bags in her basement in northwest France.
Another Frenchwoman, Veronique Courjault, was convicted last year of murdering three of her newborn children.
Her husband discovered two of the corpses in a freezer while the two were living in South Korea.
During the trial, psychiatrists testified that she suffered from a psychological condition known as "pregnancy denial."
Germany also has seen similar cases. In one, a woman was convicted of manslaughter in 2006 and sentenced to the maximum 15 years in prison for killing eight of her newborn babies and burying them in flower pots and a fish tank in the garden of her parents' home near the German-Polish border.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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