Belgian woman who killed her five children euthanised at own request 16 years on

2 March 2023, 22:15 | Updated: 2 March 2023, 22:20

A Belgian woman who killed her five children with a kitchen knife has been euthanised at her own request, 16 years on from the killings, her lawyer confirmed today.
A Belgian woman who killed her five children with a kitchen knife has been euthanised at her own request, 16 years on from the killings, her lawyer confirmed today. Picture: Getty

By Chris Samuel

A Belgian woman who slit the throats of her five children has been euthanised at her own request, 16 years on from the killings, her lawyer confirmed today.

Genevieve Lhermitte, 56, slit the throats of her son and four daughters, aged 3 to14, at the family's home on February 28, 2007, while their father was away visiting his parents in Morocco.

Lhermitte, who was 40 at the time of the attack, then tried to take her own life by stabbing herself, but survived and ended up calling the emergency services.

She was sentenced to life in prison in 2008, and in 2019 was moved to a psychiatric hospital.

Lhermitte's lawyer Nicolas Cohen confirmed local media reports that she had died through euthanasia on Tuesday, sixteen years to the day after the killings.

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Under Belgian law, people to decide to be euthanised if deemed to be suffering from unbearable psychological and physical suffering that can't be healed.

The person has to be conscious of their decision and be able to express their wish in a reasoned and consistent manner.

Belgian Genevieve Lhermitte listens the veredict on the last day of her trial at the Assize Court of Brabant-Wallon in Nivelles, on December 19, 2008.
Belgian Genevieve Lhermitte listens the veredict on the last day of her trial at the Assize Court of Brabant-Wallon in Nivelles, on December 19, 2008. Picture: Getty

"It is this specific procedure that Mrs Lhermitte followed, with the various medical opinions having been collected," Mr Cohen said.

Psychologist Emilie Maroit said Lhermitte likely chose die on February 28 in a "symbolic gesture in respect for her children".

Speaking to the RTL-TVI channel she said: "It may also have been for her to finish what she started because basically she wanted to end her life when she killed them."

The killings in 2007 and the trial that followed rocked Belgium.

It was argued by Lhermitte's lawyers that their client, who had regularly seen a psychiatrist, was mentally disturbed and shouldn't be sent to prison.

Genevieve Lhermitte (R) is escorted by a police officer as she enters the dock at the Palace of Justice in Nivelles December 8, 2008.
Genevieve Lhermitte (R) is escorted by a police officer as she enters the dock at the Palace of Justice in Nivelles December 8, 2008. Picture: Alamy

But she was found guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced to life in jail.

Last year 2,966 people died via euthanasia in Belgium, a rise of 10 percent on 2021, according to authorities.

The number one reason cited continues to be cancer, but officials said for nearly three out of four requests the patient presented "several types of suffering, both physical and psychological".

For help and support, call the Samaritans anonymously and for free on 116 123, or visit samaritans.org.

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