Expatica news

Dutroux ‘accomplice’ takes the stand

21 April 2004

BRUSSELS – The man suspected child murderer Marc Dutroux claims ran a paedophile network that ordered young girls to be kidnapped on demand was questioned in court in the Belgian city of Arlon on Wednesday.

Michel Nihoul, described as a Belgian ‘businessman,’ is standing trial alongside Dutroux, who is charged with kidnapping six young girls, murdering four of them and also murdering a former accomplice.

Dutroux has admitted kidnapping the six girls but says on several occasions he was acting on Nihoul’s orders.

Nihoul categorically denies this and claims he had nothing to do with the suspected child murderer’s alleged crimes.

In court on Wednesday Nihoul sought to prove that he had no connection with the kidnap of Laetitia Delhez, a 14-year-old girl Dutroux snatched in the Belgian city of Bertrix.

Delhez was subsequently freed from the house where Dutroux held her captive and repeatedly raped her and has this week been giving evidence at the Arlon trial. She is now 22.

Nihoul argued he was in Brussels on the day of the kidnap and produced a witness, a friend and former lawyer called Michel Vander Elst to back up his arguments.

Unlike Dutroux, who has been held in prison since his arrest eight years ago, Nihoul is appearing in court as a free man.

Many Belgian commentators predict he may well escape a serious prison sentence at the end of the trial.

Nihoul’s hearing came the day after Delhez made an impressive appearance in the Arlon court.

She began her testimony on Tuesday by refusing to take the traditional oath to speak “truthfully and without hate or fear.”

“I swear to tell the truth but I cannot speak without hate or fear,” she said simply.

At the end of her testimony Delhez refused to accept an apology from Dutroux or his ex-wife Michelle Martin, who is also on trail.

“I don’t want to hear your apologies. The damage has been done. It’s too late. OK?” she said.

Earlier Sabine Dardenne, who was kidnapped and held hostage alongside Delhez gave an equally fiery response when Dutroux tried to apologise to her.

“His excuses can die with him,” she snapped.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news