1. ITV Report

Ex-wife and accomplice of child killer Marc Dutroux released

Michelle Martin, the ex-wife and accomplice of child murderer, Marc Dutroux. Photo:

The ex-wife and accomplice of Marc Dutroux, the child murderer whose crimes horrified Belgium in the 1990s, has been freed after serving half her jail term.

Michelle Martin was released after Belgium's highest appeal court dismissed a bid by prosecutors to overturn a lower court's decision last month to approve her early release.

She is expected to move into a convent which has already been daubed with graffiti by angry protesters.

Dutroux was arrested in 1996 and found guilty of kidnapping and raping six girls. He killed two and left two others to starve to death in a makeshift dungeon.

Belgian convicted child rapist Marc Dutroux was found guilty of kidnapping and raping six girls. Credit: Reuters

Martin has served 16 years of a thirty year sentence, for her complicity in the kidnappings and for failing to feed Julie Lejeune and Mélissa Russo, who starved to death because she failed to tell the police.

ITV News' Europe Correspondent Emma Murphy reports from Brussels.

Under Belgian law, criminals can be freed after serving a third of their sentences, as long as they meet certain conditions.

Earlier, Martin's lawyer, Thierry Moreau, told reporters: "She will leave (prison) today, because if we detain her for longer than today, that would mean someone has committed another offence."

Hundreds took to the streets of Brussels earlier this month to protest against Martin's release and demand tougher rules on freeing convicted criminals.

Martin is due to live in the convent in the village of Malonne, 60 km (37 miles) southeast of Brussels and just 30 km from the house where Dutroux kept the girls captive.

The Poor Clares nuns' convent, said it agreed to take her in the spirit of Christian forgiveness.