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Minister hits back at husband murder confession

The minister for gender equality has said we must “stop making excuses for domestic violence” after the husband of murdered Alexia Daval, Jonathann, admitted to her killing.

Marlène Schaippa commented on the controversial case after Jonathann Daval’s lawyer defended his actions, explaining the “tense atmosphere” that existed between the couple.

In a press conference, Jonathann’s lawyer Randall Schwerdorffer said: “Alexia had an overwhelming personality [and Jonathann] felt lowered; crushed. At one point, there were too many words, too many crises, and he did not know how to handle it.”

Schiappa, whose official title is secretary of state for equality between women and men, denounced the confession on Twitter, calling it an example of “victim blaming” - in which a victim of violence is wrongly blamed for the actions of the perpetrator.

Speaking on television channel RTL, Schiappa said:"This isn't an argument, it's not a personal drama; this is a murder."

“I think that women who are living in domestic violence situations right now could hear this, and might say to themselves: ‘Maybe I deserve to be hit’, or there might be men who hear it and say, ‘Me too, my wife is overwhelming me, I’m going to hit her’."

She added: “I think we must stop minimising domestic violence, and stop finding excuses. There is nothing that can justify hitting your wife or partner.”

Jonathann’s confession of murder comes three months after his wife, Alexia, a 29-year-old banker, was found dead while out on a routine jog.

Her partially-burned body was found in strangled in woodland near the town of Gray (Haute-Saône, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté) in late October, but her husband had always denied any involvement, and said his wife’s family had supported him fully.

It was Jonathann who alerted police after he had not heard from Alexia in several hours, and he also played a key role in later memorial events to his wife, including a march of 10,000 people in Gray, and a speech alongside Alexia’s parents a week after the body was found.

Many other women across France also took part in symbolic runs in large groups in the weeks after the murder, in support of a woman who they believed had been endangered because she was out jogging alone in public.

The couple’s marital home had been searched, and Jonathann had been discovered with scratches and bite marks on his hands, but until his confession, he had always explained them as evidence of a fight and altercation with his wife before she disappeared.

He had admitted that their relationship had been tense due to problems conceiving, but had always previously denied any involvement in her death.

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