Belgian paedophile killer's accomplice to walk free

10th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

The accomplice and ex-wife of Belgium's notorious child killer Marc Dutroux was set to walk free on Tuesday after a prosecutor said there were no grounds to appeal her early release.

Referring to a controversial court decision Monday to free Michelle Martin half way through a 30-year term, Mons prosecutor Claude Michaux said there were "no grounds" to appeal the ruling before the country's highest appeals court.

"Though I do not agree with the decision, I have therefore decided not to introduce an appeal," Michaux told reporters in this western town.

News that the 51-year-old, viewed by many in Belgium as a monster, could be released any day has outraged much of the country and infuriated victims of the couple's serial murders, rapes and kidnappings in the mid 1990s.

Thrown behind bars in 1996 and later convicted for her role in the multiple Dutroux murders, the onetime schoolteacher was granted conditional release Monday by a court in western Mons on her fourth request for early freedom on good behaviour.

Under Belgian law, convicts can appeal for early release after serving a third of their sentence.

Enraged relatives of the string of young girls victimised by Dutroux and his timid sweetheart had pinned their last hopes on the Mons prosecutor finding a legal loophope to enable an appeal.

Justice Minister Stefaan de Clerck said Martin hoped to retire to a convent in France if freed, a process which could take some time to finalise as she would have to come under the authority of French probation officers.

In a country already reeling from a Catholic Church paedophilia scandal, the return of the grisly Dutroux affair is monopolising attention.

"Release is inevitable but disgusting," said an editorialist for the daily Le Soir on Tuesday.

© 2011 AFP

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