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Garden inaugurated on site of serial killer Marc Dutroux’s former home

23:01 21/09/2023

A memorial garden on the former site of Belgian serial killer Marc Dutroux’s home has been inaugurated in Charleroi.

Dutroux was convicted for the kidnapping, rape and murder of multiple young girls and sentenced to life in prison, where he is held in solitary confinement.

His crimes, along with the initially lenient result of his first prosecution, caused widespread unrest in Belgium and resulted in a complete reorganisation of the country’s law enforcement agencies.

More locally, the street on which he lived and carried out his crimes came to be known as "Dutroux’s street".

The inauguration of the new memorial garden was done in the presence of the parents of victims Julie Lejeune and Mélissa Russo, who were raped and held captive in the house in 1995-96, before their bodies were found buried in the garden of another of Dutroux’s properties.

“I want to thank the town and its teams for the way it was done,” father Gino Russo said. “We wanted to save the cellars and the mayor understood that very well. It was important for us to protect this cache, where Julie and Mélissa were. It's important for the investigation.”

The parents were involved in the memorial project, which deliberately features trees and flowers rather than a statue.

“This ugly house has been forgotten, and now it's a garden,” one resident said. “It's good to move on. It's symbolic, this garden. It will calm the neighbourhood.”

Another resident agreed, saying: “It's much prettier. We couldn't stand driving past that house any more, it brought back bad memories.”

Photo: Mathieu Colinet/Belga

Written by Helen Lyons