Expatica news

Ex-justice minister will not attend Dutroux trail

12 March 2004

BRUSSELS – The judge hearing the trail of suspected Belgian child-murderer Marc Dutroux on Thursday rejected calls for a former Belgian justice minister to be called as a defence witness.

Judge Stephane Goux threw out the call for former justice minister Marc Verwilghen to be summoned to give evidence at the trial, saying the request was unfounded.

Lawyers acting for Dutroux and the two men standing trial alongside him, Michel Lelievre and Michel Nihoul, made the request earlier this week, arguing that the former justice minister could be a key defence witness.

Verwilghen chaired a major parliamentary enquiry into the events that led up to Dutroux’s arrest in 1996. The hearings revealed monumental levels of police bungling and an appalling lack of co-ordination between the country’s different law enforcement services.

But shortly before Goux made his ruling on Thursday Magnee withdrew his request to cross-examine Verwilghen. He said he made the decision after reading an interview with the former justice minister in Le Soir newspaper in which Verwilghen said he had nothing to say to the court.

No hearings took place in the Dutroux trial on Friday.

The case continues on Monday.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Belgian news