Dutroux was convicted in 1989 for the abduction and rape of five young girls (with his then-wife Michelle Martin) and other accomplices. He was released on parole after three years in prison.
In 1996, Dutroux was arrested on suspicion of having kidnapped, tortured and sexually abused six females aged between 8 and 19, four of whom died. His widely publicised trial took place in 2004. Dutroux was convicted of all charges, along with the murder of a suspected former accomplice, and sentenced to life imprisonment. Martin was convicted as an accomplice to 30 years in prison. Another accomplice Michel Lièvre was convicted to 25 years in prison. Michel Nihoul was first trialed with Marc Dutroux but then convicted in a separate case to five years in prison. Another accomplice of Marc Dutroux, Bernard Weinstein, was killed by him and thus never trialed.
A number of shortcomings in the Dutroux investigation caused widespread discontent in Belgium with the country’s criminal justice system, and the ensuing scandal was one of the reasons for the reorganisation of Belgium’s law enforcement agencies and widespread allegations of corruption and infiltration of the Belgian justice system by a criminal enterprise. In the White March, 300,000 Belgian citizens protested the mishandling of the case.