Dutroux co-accused Nihoul on verge of parole
11 April 2006, BRUSSELS - The commission for probationary release will start at 2pm on Tuesday its final deliberations on whether businessman Michel Nihoul,64, can be paroled from prison early.
11 April 2006
BRUSSELS - The commission for probationary release will start at 2pm on Tuesday its final deliberations on whether businessman Michel Nihoul,64, can be paroled from prison early.
Nihoul was sentenced to five years jail in the Marc Dutroux child abuse and murder case in June 2004.
While the commission for probationary release is not bound by their advice, the Saint-Gilles jail in Brussels, the public prosecution office and Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx have already given provisional consent to the release of Nihoul.
The jailed businessman was cleared of all charges relating to the torture and murder of children, but was nevertheless convicted on drugs charges, human smuggling and membership of a criminal gang. Nihoul first acquired public notoriety in August 1996, when a photograph of him, exhausted and unshaven, was released following 24 hours of police interrogation.
It quickly became clear that a good part of the Dutroux investigation was to focus on him, with allegations that Nihoul was instrumental in an alleged network of paedophiles.
If Nihoul was, as some thought, Dutroux's 'silent partner', then this alleged network might actually exist.
However, the case against Nihoul - based largely on alleged testimonies signed by "X" or 'Régina Louf' - collapsed because of the evidence's inconsistency.
What has never been satisfactorily answered for the Belgian public is whether the network of pedophiles that Dutroux claimed to be serving ever really existed.
However, Nihoul was convicted of bribing investigators to cover-up the drug trafficking that he undertook with Dutroux (who was jailed for life) and partners Michelle Martin (jailed for 30 years) and Michel Lelièvre (25 years).
His association with the co-accused led to a tougher sentence under the laws governing the prevention of criminal conspiracy.
Speaking about his possible release, meanwhile, Nihoul's lawyer, Frederic Clément de Cléty, said: "All the given opinions on this subject are positive".
The commission for probationary release has a maximum of 15 days to
reach a decision.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news