December 09, 2008 11:05am
A WOMAN lured her five children upstairs one by one and slit their throats before trying to kill herself, a court has been told.
Belgian woman Genevieve Lhermitte, 42, is on trial for the murders of her four daughters and son, aged from three to 14.
Asked to identify herself and profession at the start of the trial, she said she was “a mother”.
Prosecutor Pierre Rans painted a nightmarish picture of the scene that met emergency services on February 28, 2007 at the former teacher’s home in Nivelles, central Belgium.
Ms Lhermitte was found sitting against a wall in the hall with a deep gash in her throat.
She tried to commit suicide after killing her children, she allegedly told an emergency worker.
Police discovered the children’s bodies in their beds with their throats slit and the floor and walls covered with blood.
The trial, expected to last about two weeks, will focus on what drove Ms Lhermitte to allegedly kill her children since she has confessed to their murders.
Seeing no solution to her problems and unable to imagine her children living without her, Ms Lhermitte heard a voice say to her on the day of the murders that “the machine has begun working”, she allegedly told investigators.
With her husband due to return any time from a trip to Morocco, she called her seven-year-old daughter Mina upstairs from watching television with her sisters and brother, the court was told.
Armed with a butcher’s knife, Ms Lhermitte comforted the girl as she laid her on the bed then strangled her and cut her throat, the court was told.
She then got the other four children to come upstairs one by one and killed them as well.
From the dock, Ms Lhermitte looked out stone-faced without her gaze falling on Bouchaib Moqadem, the father of her children, who sat in the first row next to family friend Michel Schaar.
Ms Lhermitte, who was in a deep depression at the time of the murders, allegedly told investigators she could no longer stand the presence of Mr Schaar, which she considered to be “intrusive”.
In a farewell letter left in a friend’s letterbox shortly before the murders, Ms Lhermitte allegedly said: “I have taken the decision to go very far away with my children forever.”
In the letter, she accused her husband of being deaf to her distress and accused Mr Schaar, on whom the family had depended financially for years, of wanting to run her household.
The trial continues.