Belgian day-care knifeman heard 'voices': lawyer

28th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

The suspect in a deadly knife attack at a Belgian nursery sufferd from "psychological problems" as a teenager and heard "voices in his head," according to his lawyer.

BRUSSELS - A psychiatrist concluded nonetheless two years ago that it was not necessary to commit Kim De Gelder to a mental institution, according to his court-appointed lawyer.

"There's proof that he suffered from psychological problems, but the psychiatric report will have to show that," lawyer Jaak Haentjens told journalists.

Kim De Gelder has been charged with killing two babies, aged six and nine months, and a 54-year-old nurse in a macabre knife attack at a nursery in Dendermonde, southwest of Antwerp, on Friday.

He was also charged on Monday with the stabbing murder of a 73-year-old woman at her home in Beveren, near Antwerp, earlier this month.

"At the age of 15 or 16, he suffered from a deep depression and had strange behaviour," Haentjens said. "When he was 18, his parents wanted to have him committed but it didn't happen because he had treatment.

"A psychiatrist said that committing him was not necessary. Kim was hearing voices in his head at the time," he added.

In the two years since then, De Gelder, now 20 years old and unemployed, increasingly cut himself off from others, taking up a flat a month ago where he lived alone.

Haentjens' portrait of De Gelder corroborates the picture painted by former schoolmates who described him as a "loner."

Haentjens was speaking after a Belgian court ordered De Gelder on Tuesday to be kept in custody.

After a first conversation with his client, Haentjens hinted on Monday evening that De Gelder had implicitly acknowledged committing the knife attack in the Dendermonde nursery and that he "understands that what he did was inhuman."

However, the lawyer was more cautious on Tuesday.

"When he is confronted with what happened, he says that he does not remember anything, but says that he is sorry and thinks that what happened to the victims is horrible," Haentjens said.

De Gelder had refused to speak about the incidents to authorities and even stopped eating over the weekend before promising to help the investigation in his first conversation with Haentjens on Monday.

Although prosecutor Christian Du four has said that there are "very concrete elements" linking the nursery attack to the murder of the elderly woman, De Gelder has said he knows nothing about the latter incident.

Flemish newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws reported that investigators had found a document on De Gelder's computer with precise information about the elderly woman, which was created several days before the murder.

Next to her name, Elza Van Raemdonck, was written: "Result of the action: one," according to the newspaper.

The newspaper said that the computer file also left no doubts that the nursery attack had been planned in detail in advance and that he targeted other day-care centres as well.

A panel of three psychiatrists met with De Gelder for the first time on Monday and are to determine in the coming months whether he was responsible for his acts and whether he should be tried or sent to a psychiatric institution.


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