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Demolition work starts on Marc Dutroux's house in Marcinelle

16:24 07/06/2022

Marcinelle’s ‘house of horror’, the former home of Belgium’s most notorious paedophile Marc Dutroux, is undergoing demolition, reports RTBF.

The long-awaited destruction of the house is part of the city of Charleroi’s plan to build a memorial garden on the site in honour of the child killer’s victims.

Dutroux was given a life sentence in 2004 for kidnapping and raping six girls, four of whom died. It was in 1996 that the hiding place in his terrace home in Marcinelle was uncovered. Two girls were freed from the basement and the dead bodies of four other girls were discovered.

They included Julie Lejeune and Melissa Russo, buried in the garden of another house owned by Dutroux, also south of Charleroi. The eight-year-olds, who had been abducted in 1995, had starved to death after Dutroux’s arrest in 1996.

His ex-wife Michelle Martin was also convicted in 2004 for complicity in the deaths of Julie and Melissa. Although she was released conditionally in 2012, Dutroux has so far been denied early release.

The Dutroux case sparked national outrage in Belgium, as much for mistakes and delays in the police and judicial investigation as the horrific nature of the crimes. A White March protest in Brussels in October 1996 was attended by 300,000 people.

For the past 26 years, Dutroux’s house has remained standing, covered with a fresco in memory of the victims. Local inhabitants have long wanted it to disappear. "Dutroux was punished, that's enough, we in the street, we want to forget", a resident told RTBF.

Families of the victims were not necessarily of the same opinion. "In my mind, it was a bit like Anne Frank's house, I didn't want it to be destroyed," said Melissa's father Gino Russo.

Although the city of Charleroi is transforming the site into a garden of remembrance, to be called "Between Earth and Heaven", the hidden cells that were at the heart of the legal case, will be preserved.

Photo: Belga/Virginie Lefour

Written by The Bulletin