Court refuses to free child-killer Dutroux's accomplice

22nd September 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Belgian court Thursday refused to free Michelle Martin, ex-wife and accomplice of notorious paedophile killer Marc Dutroux, serving life for the kidnap, rape and murder of several girls.

Martin, the 51-year-old mother of three of the jailed killer's children and a former school teacher, was granted release on parole in May after serving barely half of a 30-year sentence.

But she could not walk free until judicial authorities had approved the terms of her social reinsertion -- her work and residence plans.

The decision to free Martin after 15 years in jail triggered an outcry in Belgium earlier this year.

But Thursday, a court in this southern Belgian town ruled her plans for social reinsertion unacceptable, revising the May parole and said it would take a fresh look at her request in May 2012.

Dutroux was jailed for life in June 2004 for the kidnap and rape in the 1990s of six young and teenaged girls, four of whom died.

Hauled before a court the same year, Martin was found guilty of helping Dutroux hold his victims prisoner, and of complicity in the deaths of two eight-year-olds, found starved to death in a locked cellar.

In May, her lawyers said she hoped to transfer to a convent in France after finding God while in jail.

But the French justice ministry refused her transfer to the country.

Martin, a quiet woman who consistently pleaded submissiveness to Dutroux at the trial, admitted to having locked the door to the cellar where he held the girls captive. She was supposed to have fed them when Dutroux was away but told the court she was too afraid.

The Dutroux affair was one of the first in Europe to put paedophilia squarely in the public eye.

News that a woman viewed by many in Belgium as a monster was to be freed outraged much of the country and infuriated victims of the couple's serial murders, rapes and kidnappings.

Dutroux, an unemployed electrician allegedly surviving on drug-dealing and stolen cars, was arrested in August 1996 after a 14-year-old went missing. She was found alive two days later along with a girl of 12, cowering in the basement of one of his homes.

The case then took a gruesome turn when the bodies of the two eight-year-olds were found buried in the garden of his main residence.

Less than a month later, the bodies of two more girls were found in another property owned by Dutroux.

Public shock turned to fury when it emerged not only that police had missed a string of clues, but that Dutroux had been released from jail in 1992 after serving just three years of a 13-year sentence for the abduction and rape of five girls.

Martin, who like many of his other women met him at an ice-rink, was convicted and jailed for that affair too. She served only two years of her five-year sentence.

© 2011 AFP

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