Kathleen Folbigg appears during a convictions inquiry at the NSW Coroners Court, Sydney, Australia, May 1, 2019. (Reuters Photo)
Australian Kathleen Folbigg, who spent two decades behind bars accused of killing her four children, hailed a "victory for science" on Tuesday after an unexpected research breakthrough helped her walk free.
Folbigg was jailed in 2003 after she was convicted of killing her four infant children, who died separately without explanation between 1989 and 1999.
Despite the lack of forensic evidence linking her to the deaths and her steadfast claims of innocence during her 20-year incarceration, she was found guilty.
Scientific breakthroughs in recent years have uncovered genetic mutations that helped explain why some of the children died, paving the way for Folbigg to be released from prison.
The discoveries provided compelling evidence supporting her innocence and marked a turning point in her case.
"I'm extremely humbled and extremely grateful for being pardoned and released from prison," Folbigg said in her first public statement since being released. She described the day as a "victory for science and especially truth."
Folbigg was pardoned by New South Wales Gov. Margaret Beazley after a long-running inquiry concluded that there was "reasonable doubt" she had killed her children.
However, while she has regained her freedom, Folbigg still needs to go through a separate legal process to have her convictions officially overturned.
Folbigg's lawyer, Rhanee Rego, expressed frustration with the Australian court system, stating that it had failed her client at every step. Rego called for a review of the system of post-conviction review and emphasized the importance of understanding the circumstances surrounding the children's deaths through an inquest rather than jumping to conclusions and condemning Folbigg.
Folbigg's legal team remains determined to clear her name and ensure that justice is served. They aim to rectify what they perceive as a grave miscarriage of justice and shed light on the flaws in the justice system that prevented the consideration of new information, particularly scientific findings, in her case.
The Australian Academy of Science, which played a crucial role in the Folbigg inquiry, also described the convictions as "Australia's greatest miscarriage of justice.