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Dutroux ‘not a killer’

Published on 28/05/2004

28 May 2004

BRUSSELS – Belgian rapist Marc Dutroux may have kidnapped and held captive young girls but he is no murderer, one of his lawyers has insisted.

Speaking in the closing stages of Dutroux’s trial in the Belgian city of Arlon, his lawyer, Ronny Baudewyn, insisted that there was no evidence that his client had killed anyone.

Dutroux is accused of murdering two girls, An Marchal and Eefje Lambrecks, as well as a former accomplice Bernard Weinstein.

Two other girls, eight-year-olds Julie Lejeune and Melissa Russo, are believed to have starved to death in a secret cell in one of his houses while Dutroux was serving a three-month prison sentence.

But on Thursday Baudewyn argued there was no evidence that Dutroux had killed anyone.

“Perhaps Marc Dutroux is a kidnapper of children but he is not a killer,” the lawyer insisted.

Baudewyn said he was not trying to ensure that his client did not go to prison for life, arguing the crimes Dutroux has admitted to are already serious enough to prevent that happening.

“No can imagine that one day he will be free,” said the lawyer.

But, he added, he did not want his client to become the “dustbin for this affair” and end up convicted for crimes he did not commit.

As Baudewyn made his comments Paul Marchal, whose daughter was one of the girls allegedly murdered by Dutroux, walked out of the courtroom.

He did not return for the rest of the day.

As the date for the verdict in Belgium’s ‘trial of the century’ approaches media speculation is growing as to the sentences that will be meted out to each of the four accused.

In its Friday edition La Derniere Heure newspaper predicted that, unless he benefits from “attenuating circumstances,” Dutroux will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

The newspaper predicts his ex-wife Michelle Martin will receive a sentence of at least 20 to 30 years for aiding her former husband.

Dutroux’s accomplice Michel Lelievre is also looking at at least 20 to 30 years in jail, the newspaper adds.

The big unknown in the case is Belgian businessman Michel Nihoul.

Dutroux claims Nihoul was the brains behind all of the crimes he stands accused of.

But Nihoul has denied any involvement in the allegations of kidnap rape and murder.

La Derniere Heure says it is possible that the jury will acquit Nihoul.

Alternatively he could go to jail for anything between six months and 20 years, it adds.

The jury is expected to retire to consider its verdict on 14 June.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news