Belgian Mother Who Killed Five of Her Children Euthanized
A Belgian woman, Genevieve Lhermitte, has been euthanised at her own request 16 years after she had murdered her five children. The tragedy happened in the town of Nivelles on 28 February, 2007, when the father was away. The 56-year-old had tried to take her own life but she failed and subsequently called for help. She was sentenced to life in prison in 2008, which was later changed to a psychiatric hospital in 2019.
In Belgium, the law allows for people to voluntarily choose euthanasia if they are suffering from an "unbearable" psychological illness that is deemed to be incurable. In order for the request to be accepted, the individual must be conscious and capable of expressing their will in a reasonable and consistent manner. As confirmed by her lawyer, this is what Mrs. Lhermitte did, after receiving multiple medical opinions.
Psychologist Emilie Maroit told the RTL-TVI channel that Lhermitte likely deliberately chose 28 February to carry out her death as a symbolic gesture to her children.
"It could also have been a way in which she could finish what she started, given that, when she killed them all, she wanted to end her life too," the psychologist said.
The tragic events of 2007, culminating in the trial, left Belgium shocked.
During her trial, Lhermitte's lawyers claimed she was mentally disturbed and thus should be exempt from imprisonment. However, the jury found her guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced her to life in prison.
In 2010, Thierry Lhermitte took legal action against a former psychiatrist, claiming his "inaction" had resulted in multiple murders and sought up to three million euros (£2,655,840); however, the case was dropped after a decade.
In 2021, the number of people that underwent euthanasia in Belgium rose by 10%, totalling 2,966. Cancer was by far the leading cause, though nearly three out of four patients presented "several types of suffering, both physical and psychological".
Since 2014, Belgium has legally allowed for children to be euthanised if they are terminally ill, in great pain, and their parents have given consent.