1 March 2004
BRUSSELS – The opening day of the trial of Marc Dutroux has been overshadowed by the suspected child-murderer’s insistence that he was just a pawn in a larger paedophile network.
Dutroux made the claims in a statement released to several Belgian media ahead of his appearance in court in the Walloon city of Arlon on Monday morning.
In the statement, Dutroux blamed his co-defendant Michel Nihoul for masterminding many of the crimes of which he stands accused.
“Michel Nihoul had an important role throughout this affair. The whole thing pivots around him. I couldn’t say this before or he would have fled the country,” Dutroux said in his statement, which was broadcast by Flemish television station VTM.
Belgian judges last week said Nihoul does not have to be held in custody while he stands trial alongside Dutroux, his ex-wife Michelle Martin and a Michel Lelièvre, a former Dutroux accomplice.
Nihoul’s lawyer Frédéric Clément de Cléty quickly rubbished Dutroux’s claim however.
“It is a bit late and lacks all credibility,” he said bluntly.
Dutroux’s pre-trial statement went on to suggest that he had just been used as a pawn in much larger paedophile network.
“I am not going to be held responsible for an entire mafia-esque system just because I did some stupid things,” he said.
The opening day of the trial itself went smoothly on Monday with most of the proceedings taken up with selecting the jury that will have to determine whether or not Dutroux and his co-defendants are guilty.
Dutroux asked not to be filmed or photographed when he arrived in court on Monday and pictures of him printed in the Belgian papers show him with his eyes blacked out, although his trademark moustache is still clearly visible.
The suspected child murderer said little during his appearance in front of the judge.
When asked his name he replied, “My name is Marc Dutroux.”
When asked his profession, he replied, “I don’t have one”.
At one point Dutroux even seemed to have fallen asleep during the hearing.
His lawyer, Xavier Magnée, said afterwards that Dutroux had slept badly the night before.
“When nothing tactical is happening during the hearing it is normal that he tries to recuperate. I don’t thinks this shows a lack of respect to the court,” he insisted.
Dutroux is accused of raping and killing four girls, and of raping two others who were found alive at one of his properties.
The trial continues.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Belgian news