Fourniret trial starts on Thursday
The couple stands accused of murdering seven people. Several of the murders occurred here in Belgium.
The trial of the suspected French mass murderer, Michel Fourniret starts in France on Thursday. Fourniret's wife, Monique Olivier, is also facing charges.
The couple stands accused of murdering seven people. Several of the murders occurred here in Belgium. One of the victims is one of Belgium's legendary missing children: Elisabeth Brichet.
The series of murders first came to light in the summer of 2004: Fourniret's wife, Monique Olivier, admitted that her husband had kidnapped and murdered several girls and young women.
At the time of the admission, Fourniret has been in gaol for over a year. He was held for the abduction of a 13-year-old girl in Ciney in Wallonia.
The youngster had been able to escape from Fourniret's delivery van and alert the police.
At the time Fourniret told her: "I am more evil than Marc Dutroux".
The Frenchman has a long track record of paedophile abuse. In 1965 the French authorities convicted him on charges relating to attacks on two young girls.
Twenty years later he is gaoled for similar offences, but is paroled.
He re-offends and this time round several of his victims are killed.
The remarkable role of his wife
Monique Olivier befriends Fourniret when he is still in prison. They conclude a pact.
He will kill her former husbands, if she helps him to find virgins.
All psychiatrists agree: the perverse murders would not have been committed if the twosome had not acted in unison.
A spate of abductions and killings
Fourniret is released from prison in 1987. That same year he abducts, rapes and slays his first victim.
A further four killings occur during the next three years. One of the victims is one of Belgium's legendary missing children: Elisabeth Brichet (photo).
Fourniret takes up residence in Belgium in 1992. He becomes the odd jobs man at a school in Gédinne in Wallonia.
He was able to provide a certificate of exemplary behaviour, a document usually handed to Belgian job seekers by the authorities of their town.
The Belgian authorities were unaware of the offences Fourniret had committed in France.
Only in 2005 did the Belgian, French, German and Spanish authorities start to exchange information about certain convictions.
A strange affair
Fourniret is now standing trial for seven murders, but this may not be his last trial. Evidence has been found to charge him with two further killings.
The trial in Charleville-Mézières will undoubtedly be an interesting one.
It was unclear whether the defendant would attend Thursday's opening session. On Wednesday one of his lawyers said Fourniret would attend after all and read out a letter.
Earlier Fourniret banned his lawyers from defending him in his absence.