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A jury at a court in the southeastern city of Valence found him guilty of murder and attempted murder. Image Credit: Supplied

Grenoble France: A French prosecutor on Tuesday asked an appeals court to uphold the life sentence for a man convicted for fatally shooting three women he blamed for ruining his career.

In 2021, an unemployed French engineer, Gabriel Fortin, killed two human resources directors and a job centre employee, and attempted to kill a company executive following a string of dismissals.

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The bloody rampage shocked France. In 2023, the man dubbed the "HR killer" was given a life sentence.

A jury at a court in the southeastern city of Valence found him guilty of murder and attempted murder and recommended he serve a minimum sentence of 22 years.

Fortin, 49, challenged his sentence but refused to appear at an appeal trial which began on May 13 at the Isere Criminal Court in southeastern France.

On Tuesday, the public prosecutor asked the court to uphold the life sentence. He pointed to Fortin's "total lack of empathy towards his victims" and a "categorical refusal to seek any form of treatment."

Fortin had said he was leaving it to his lawyers to represent him, adding he had "nothing to say".

The ruling is expected later Tuesday or Wednesday.

'Everyone is afraid'

"His silence is simply a vindication of his murders. Society must protect itself," said Laurence Buisson, lawyer for Bertrand Meichel, the sole survivor of the attacks.

"We ask, without hatred or weakness, that this character be definitively and irrevocably excluded from society."

Investigators, who have studied thousands of pages of notes found at his home, suspect that he may have targeted several other people had he not been arrested.

"Everyone is afraid," said Sophie Pujol-Bainier, a lawyer for Estelle Luce, Fortin's first victim.

During the two-week trial in 2023, Fortin spoke little but claimed he had been a victim of spying as well as conspiracies that led to him being dismissed from jobs in 2006-2009.

The jury at the time found that mental disorder had impaired his judgement, but did not reduce the sentence.

The victims were targeted at their workplaces or homes and were associated with his being fired or his inability to find another job.

HR manager and mother-of-two Luce was fatally shot in the car park of her company in the Haut-Rhin region of eastern France on January 26, 2021.

Meichel, an executive who had been involved in firing Fortin, was shot and wounded the same day at his home.

Two days later, Fortin gunned down Patricia Pasquion, an executive at France's national employment agency in Valence, and Geraldine Caclin, the head of human resources at the firm Faun Environment.

France's then prime minister Jean Castex said at the time the killings had put "the whole country into mourning".