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‘Machiavellian’ Dutroux was’terrifying professional’

4 March 2004

BRUSSELS – A Belgian investigating magistrate on Thursday told of his shock at discovering the “terrifying professionalism” of suspected Belgian child murderer Marc Dutroux.

Speaking at Dutroux’s trial in the Belgian city of Arlon, investigating magistrate Jean-Marc Connerotte described how Dutroux had built a sophisticated secret cell at one of his homes where he kept two girls he had kidnapped, 12 year old Sabine Dardenne and Laetitia Delhez, 14.

The way the cell was built showed Dutroux’s “terrifying professionalism,” said Canerotte.

The secret cache was invisible from the outside and even included a ventilation system that evacuated air through the ceiling so that police sniffer dogs would not have been able to smell the girls hiding in the cell.

Canerotte also described the “Machiavellian” manner in which Dutroux convinced the kidnapped girls that he was actually protecting them. The suspected child murderer told the girls that he had shut them in the cell to hide them from members of a criminal gang who wanted to hurt them, the investigating magistrate said.

He added that the two girls were so taken in by Dutroux’s story that they actually thanked him and kissed him when he let them out of the cell again.

“It is absolutely horrendous,” said Canerotte.

Sabine and Laetitia were freed alive from the cell when Dutroux was arrested in 1996.

Canerotte was the first investigating magistrate to work on the Dutroux affair after the suspected child murder was arrested. But he was pulled off the case when one of Dutroux’s lawyers complained after he attended a dinner in honour of Laetitia Delhez.

Later in Thursday’s proceedings Canerotte broke down in tears when answering questions about why he had needed bodyguards when he was working on the Dutroux case and the court hearings were temporarily adjourned.

Canerotte’s testimony portraying Dutroux as a terrifying manipulator followed similar statements by the suspected child murderer’s ex-wife on Wednesday.

Speaking after her former husband had spent several hours trying to present himself as a victim who was working on higher orders and who had killed no-one, Michelle Martin delivered a scathing attack on Dutroux.

She said Dutroux had told her of his intention to kidnap both Sabine and Laetitia as well as four other girls, who later died.

She said he had kidnapped two eight year olds, Julie Lejeune and Melissa Russo, by mistake.

Dutroux had thought the girls were older than they were when he snatched them in order to have sex with them, she said.

Her former husband then “went hunting again” she said and this time he returned home with An Marchal, 17 and 19 year old Eefje Lambrecx, she continued.

He later killed An and Eefje by drugging them and burying them alive because he “couldn’t cope” with four kidnapped girls in the house.

Julie and Melissa starved to death in a secret cell similar to the one used to hide Sabine and Laetitia. Dutroux told Martin to feed the girls while he was serving a prison sentence for car theft “but I just couldn’t do it” she told the court.

Dutroux on Wednesday admitted he had raped Sabine and Laetitia and said he had “consensual sex” with Eefje.

The trial continues.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Belgian news