A Belgian woman who murdered her five children in a case that shocked the country has been euthanized at her own request, 16 years after the murder, her lawyer said on Thursday.
Genevieve Lhermitte slit the throats of her son and four daughters, aged between three and 14, with a kitchen knife in the family home in the town of Nivelles on February 28, 2007, while their father was out.
He then tried to commit suicide by stabbing himself, but the attempt failed and he ended up calling the emergency services.
Lermitte was sentenced to life in prison in 2008, before being moved to a psychiatric hospital in 2019.
Nicolas Cohen, a lawyer for the 56-year-old, confirmed AFP reports in local media that his client had died via euthanasia on Tuesday, the 16th anniversary of the killings.
Belgian law allows people to be euthanized if they are deemed to be suffering from “intolerable” psychological, not just physical, suffering that cannot be cured.
The person must be conscious of his/her decision and must be able to express his/her wishes in a reasoned and coherent manner.
“This is the specific procedure that Mrs. Lhermitte followed, in which various medical opinions were gathered,” said her lawyer.
Psychologist Emily Maroit told the RTL-TVI channel that Lhermitte probably decided to die on 28 February in a “symbolic gesture out of respect for his children”.
Maroit added, “It could also be to finish what she started because basically she wanted to end their lives when she killed them.”
In 2007 the quintuple murders and subsequent trial shook Belgium.
Lhermitte’s lawyers argued that their client, who had regularly seen a psychiatrist, was mentally disturbed and should not be jailed.
But the jury found him guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced him to life in prison after hearing conflicting medical expertise.
In 2010 Lhermitte filed a civil lawsuit seeking three million euros ($3.18 million) from a former psychiatrist alleging that his “inaction” had failed to prevent the murders, but after ten years without success he Dropped the legal battle.
Last year, 2,966 people died through euthanasia in Belgium, a 10 percent increase from 2021, according to officials.
Cancer remains the most commonly reported cause, but officials said patients presented “some form of suffering, both physical and psychological,” for nearly three out of four requests.