Handcuff key found in Dutroux's prison locker

18th March 2004, Comments 0 comments

18 March 2004, BRUSSELS - Prison guards have found a handcuff key in a locker belonging to suspected child murderer Marc Dutroux, the Belgian press reported on Thursday.

18 March 2004

BRUSSELS - Prison guards have found a handcuff key in a locker belonging to suspected child murderer Marc Dutroux, the Belgian press reported on Thursday.

The key was hidden in a salt container stored in the locker at Arlon prison, where Dutroux is being held during his trial for rape and murder, which is being held in the same city.

Dutroux himself has denied all knowledge of the key saying through his lawyer on Thursday that the discovery "surprised" him.

And the prison authorities have been quick to point out that the key is an old model that does not fit the kind of handcuffs Dutroux must wear whenever he is outside the prison.

But the affair has nevertheless proved a major embarrassment for Arlon prison and the Belgian government.

Belgian Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx on Wednesday called the discovery "extremely serious".

Foreign Minister Louis Michel went even further on Thursday, suggesting someone was trying to help Dutroux escape from custody.

"This is clearly an attempt to give him the key," the minister said furiously during an interview on Belgian radio.

The key episode is the latest in a long line of humiliating gaffes linked to the Dutroux case that have dogged the Belgian authorities ever since the suspected child murderer was arrested in 1996. 

Soon after his capture it was revealed that policemen had visited a house where Dutroux was hiding two girls who later died. The officers apparently saw nothing.

In 1998 Dutroux briefly escaped from custody by overpowering one of his guards.

Then, on the first day of his trial in Arlon, Dutroux was driven away from court in a police van with one of its back doors open.

The trial continues.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Belgian news

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