An Australian woman convicted of the deaths of her four children has been pardoned after 20 years in jail following the review of the case. Kathleen Folbigg was convicted in 2003 on charges of murdering three of her children and manslaughter on the fourth, but a years-long investigation led by Spanish immunologist Carola García Vinuesa established “reasonable doubt” about the sentences.
“In the interest of justice, Kathleen Folbigg must be released from custody as soon as possible,” New South Wales State Attorney General Michael Daley said Monday. Two decades ago, prosecutors concluded that the woman had suffocated the children, who were between nine weeks and three years old when they died, but Folbigg has always maintained that the deaths were due to natural causes.
In 2021, dozens of scientists from Australia and abroad signed a petition calling for Folbigg’s release, noting that new forensic evidence suggests unexplained deaths are linked to rare genetic mutations or congenital abnormalities. In the absence of firm forensic evidence, prosecutors argued that it was extremely rare for four children to die suddenly without explanation, at such young ages and within years of each other.
But retired Judge Tom Bathurst, who led the new investigation, said medical conditions were found that could explain three of the deaths. Two girls have a rare genetic mutation, while one boy had an “underlying neurogenic condition.” Given these factors, Bathurst determined that the death of the fourth child was also not suspicious.
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