Dutroux's former wife released


The former wife and accomplice of paedophile killer Marc Dutroux was granted parole today, less than halfway through her 30-year-sentence.

Michelle Martin, one of Belgium’s most despised criminals, was convicted of letting two of his victims starve to death, when she could have freed them..

She passed the final barrier to freedom after the country’s highest court, the Court of Cassation ruled that no procedural errors had been made when a lower court originally allowed Martin out to live in a convent.

“The court rejects the appeals,” a statement said after the panel assessed those filed by the prosecutor’s offices and some of the families of the victims.

It was unclear when Martin would be travelling to southern Malonne, where she will live in a Clarisse convent and, in the words of her lawyer, seek atonement for her crimes.

Security forces were already preparing for Martin’s arrival in Malonne, a village 45 miles south of Brussels. Several police were stationed near the convent even before the verdict was announced.

Next to the convent, fluorescent graffiti protesting Martin’s possible arrival was removed. At a religious statue near the gate, two teddy bears sat next to a picture of the two eight-year-old girls who starved to death in Dutroux’s
dungeon in 1996.

“Shame on the sisters,” one poster said, referring to the nuns who were willing to take Martin in.

Martin depicted herself as a passive culprit of the psychopath Dutroux. But she is still blamed for aiding her husband as he went on a depraved and murderous spree, and she is particularly loathed for letting the two girls starve while
Dutroux was imprisoned.

Dutroux, an unemployed electrician and convicted paedophile on parole at the time of the crimes, was arrested in 1996 and convicted eight years later of abducting, imprisoning and raping six girls between the summers of 1995 and
1996. He was also found guilty of murdering two of the six girls, who ranged in age from 8 to 19 years old.

The last two of Dutroux’s kidnap victims came out alive after police took action.

Martin’s lawyer, Thierry Moreau, insisted she deserved a chance at a better life.

“There is something human remaining in Mrs Martin, even though she acknowledges herself she is responsible for very serious acts,” he said. “She paid the price for it. She did it in respect of the law, and now there is this
project where she wants to redeem herself and this will be another way to do her sentence.”

Talk of Martin’s release has spawned demonstrations over the past weeks, with demands to keep her in jail.