Belgian child killer's wife seeks Italy refuge

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Michelle Martin helped her husband keep six girls captive and was complicit in the deaths of two of them. Photo: Pool/AFP
13:39 CET+01:00
The former wife of Belgium's notorious serial child killer and paedophile Marc Dutroux is seeking refuge with a religious community on the outskirts of Florence, press reports said on Thursday.

Michelle Martin was freed on parole in 2012 after 16 years in prison on condition that she move into a Belgian convent near the central city of Namur, but the nuns are now moving to Brussels and do not want her to come with them.

Martin - whose move into the convent provoked widespread outrage - has asked the authorities for permission to seek refuge elsewhere, the reports said.

Regional media group Sudpresse said Martin was cleared on January 2nd to go to Italy for a week, hoping to find a welcome in the Cristo e La Riposta community in the small village of Bagno a Ripoli just outside Florence.

"We do not know when she will come," Sudpresse cited Canadian pasteur Paul Schafer at the centre as saying.

"At this point, we have not discussed a permanent residency with us. First of all, there will be a stay of five to seven days so that she can reflect and rest," Schafer said.

"A Belgian evangelical group told me [of her case] and I responded favourably," he said. 

"We know that she is in the eye of the media in Belgium and we are ready to offer her a spiritual retreat in our group, nothing more," he added.

Dutroux was jailed for life in 2004 for the kidnap and rape between 1995 and 1996 of six girls, and the murder of four of his victims, in one of the darkest episodes in Belgium's criminal history.

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Martin, a former schoolteacher who was detained in 1996, was sentenced too in 2004 for helping him hold the girls captive and for complicity in the deaths of two who were found starved to death in a locked cellar.

Martin married Dutroux in 1983 and had three children with him before they divorced in 2003.

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