Kidnap victims were buried alive, court told
MOVING parents and jurors to tears, a senior investigator testified yesterday that two girls, allegedly abducted and raped by Marc Dutroux, were drugged and buried alive in a backyard in 1996.
The investigating magistrate, Jacques Langlois, gave the 12-member jury gruesome details of his six-year investigation into the actions of the Belgian facing charges of kidnapping, abusing and killing several girls in the mid-1990s.
"I know the fathers of An [Marchal] and Eefje [Lambrecks] are in the courtroom. I want to tell them that what they hear now will be extremely painful," Mr Langlois said in the court at Arlon, 115 miles south-east of Brussels.
For the first time, one of Dutroux’s alleged victims, Laetitia Delhez, was in court. She and Sabine Dardenne were rescued from a cell in Dutroux’s basement on 15 August, 1996. Now in their early 20s, they are expected to testify in the trial.
Mr Langlois said Dutroux and Michel Lelievre, who is also on trial, picked up Ms Marchal and Ms Lambrecks in a Citroen CX sedan when the two, then 17 and 19, were hitchhiking.
He said they were drugged with sleeping pills, taken to Dutroux’s house in central Belgium, where they were tied up and repeatedly raped. The jurors were shown photos of their bodies after they were excavated from Dutroux’s back garden.
In testimony that brought the girls’ parents and jurors to tears, Mr Langlois said they were buried alive.
Dutroux, his former wife, Michelle Martin, 44, Lelievre, 32, and Michel Nihoul, 62 are charged with kidnapping, abusing and killing several girls.
Dutroux and Lelievre admit kidnapping but not raping or killing the teenagers. Dutroux has said their abduction was carried out with the help of two police officers to prove he acted on behalf of a well-connected criminal network. Lelievre has contradicted that version of events.
Two days after Dutroux, Martin and Lelievre were arrested in 1996, police freed Ms Delhez, then 14, and Ms Dardenne, 12. Five bodies were eventually unearthed in two back gardens: those of Julie Lejeune and Melissa Russo, both eight, and of Ms Marchal and Ms Lambrecks.
The fifth body was that of Dutroux’s alleged accomplice Bernard Weinstein. Dutroux claims he and Weinstein built the cell on the orders of a child-sex network in which, he said, Nihoul played a key role. Prosecutors believe Dutroux killed Weinstein.
• The Danish government yesterday said it was looking into whether it can ban a group that says paedophilia has an acceptable side.
The Danish Paedophile Association, which has members from all over Scandinavia and meets regularly, says its aims include fighting prejudice against paedophilia and educating paedophiles in responsible behaviour towards children.
The justice minister, Lene Espersen, wants public prosecutors to see if grounds for dissolving the organisation can be found in the constitution.
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