Lambrechts 19-year old daughter Eefje was kidnapped together with her friend An Marchal, 17, while on holiday in Ostend in 1996. They were later found dead in the property of Dutroux and Martin, as were two eight-year-olds from Wallonia. Two other girls, Sabine Dardenne, 12, and Laetitia Delhez, 14, were found alive.
Dutroux was convicted of murder and sentenced in 2004 to life imprisonment. Martin, as his accomplice, was sentenced to 30 years – in particular for her role in the deaths of the two younger girls, who she left to die of hunger and thirst while Dutroux was in custody.
Taking into account the time spent on remand, Martin has now served almost 16 years of her sentence – more than half of the total, and more than the one-third required to be eligible for parole. Several applications for release have been refused, most recently last year when arrangement had been made for Martin to go into a convent in France. Public outcry and statements by the French minister of justice led to the convent withdrawing its offer, and Martin remained in prison.
This time she is scheduled to move in to a convent in Wallonia, and the court set up to deal with parole requests last week agreed to her release. The prosecutor’s office has appealed the decision, and Martin will remain in prison until the appeals are decided, which is expected to take about a month.
“I was convinced this would never happen because if Martin can be released early, who stays in prison?” said Paul Marchal, the father of An. “Who would have to serve their whole sentence, if not her? Martin is after all responsible for the deaths of four children.”