Faced with the two little boys’ shocking testimonies, the court in the town of Meaux, northeast of Paris, described the couple’s methods of raising their children as brutal and “from another time”.
The almost daily punishments detailed between January and May 2014 also included spankings, having the two boys kneel on a broomstick with their arms stretched out in front of them and forcing them under the shower, alternating between hot and cold water.
But the most horrifying account was that of the youngest son, who testified about how he in April this year was forced to eat his own excrement. “I ate excrement,” he told the court according to AFP.
The incident was confirmed by the 31-year-old mother who blamed the incident on her 41-year-old partner.
“I was pregnant, I couldn’t move. I asked my husband to punish him because he had soiled himself,” recalling how the little boy later came out “with faeces around his mouth”.
The prosecutor accused the couple of treating their children “worse than animals”.
The pair defended themselves by pointing to their own difficult childhoods and circumstances, with the father saying he had been diagnosed with a moderate mental retardation at birth and had been beaten by his father. The mother said she had been placed with social services as a baby and that she suffers from depression.
The boys have, along with their six siblings, been removed from the couple and placed with social services.
The court also banned them from seeing the two boys for three years, unless a judge rules otherwise.
Of the two-year prison sentences handed out to the couple, 14 months are suspended.