Michelle Martin (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk), the jailed ex-wife of child killer Marc Dutroux has been released from prison after serving 16 years into her 30-year sentence.
Mrs Martin’s transfer to a convent was upheld earlier this week by Belgium’s highest court.
Two appeals against the ruling were rejected. One was led by Jean-Denis Lejeune, the father of one of the victims, and another by prosecutors.
The controversial decision sparked outrage from relatives of the pair’s victims.
Arrested in 1996, Mrs Martin was convicted in 2004 of complicity in the starvation deaths of two girls kidnapped by Marc Dutroux. While he served a three-month jail term for an unrelated offence, Mrs Martin did not feed two eight-year-olds who were left in his basement dungeon.
She was also convicted of helping him in the abduction of a number of others.
Mr Dutroux is currently serving a life sentence for kidnapping and raping six young and teenage girls.
In addition to the two who starved to death in his basement, Mr Dutroux killed two others.
The nuns of the Clarisse convent in Malonne near Namur, in southern Belgium, have agreed to take Mrs Martin in.
She will be free to come and go as she pleases, though it will be under the supervision of nuns and probation workers.
She has also been ordered to “to keep her distance” from relatives of the victims, and is not allowed to talk about her crimes to the media.
In the 1980s, Mr Dutroux and Mrs Martin were both jailed for kidnapping and raping five young girls. They were freed early on good behaviour, and went on to abduct more young victims.
According to Mrs Martin’s lawyer she deserved this chance to redeem herself.
“There is something human remaining in Mrs Martin, even though she acknowledges herself she is responsible for very serious acts,” Thierry Moreau told AFP.
“She paid the price for it. She did it in respect of the law, and now there is this project where she wants to redeem herself and this will be another way to do her sentence.”
Paul Marchal, the father of one of Dutroux’s victims said : “There is only one word for this. This is simply absurd.”
“Concerning Martin, my fight is over and done. I lost.”
An earlier court ruling said that Mrs Martin will be eligible for full release into the community in 10 year’s time.
People opposed to the ruling fear that one day Mr Dutroux himself could walk free.
According to the AFP, on Tuesday his lawyer Ronny Baudewijn said that Mr Dutroux “is convinced [that will happen] and believes that he too deserves a chance to be reintegrated into society.”