Expatica news

Nihoul ‘did not tell Dutroux to kidnap girl’

11 March 2004

BRUSSELS – Belgian businessman Michel Nihoul did not order suspected child murderer Marc Dutroux to kidnap a young girl in August 1996, the magistrate who headed the investigation into Dutroux’s alleged crimes said on Thursday.

Speaking during Dutroux’s trial in the Belgian city of Arlon, investigating magistrate Jacques Langlois said there was no evidence to suggest that a series of telephone calls between Nihoul and the suspected killer had anything to do with the kidnap of 14 year old Laetitia Delhez, who was seized on 9 August 1996.

Delhez and another girl, Sabine Dardenne, 12, were freed alive from a secret cell at one of Dutroux’s properties on 15 August 1996.

The investigating magistrate’s statements are good news for Nihoul, who is standing trial alongside Dutroux, the suspected killer’s ex-wife, Michelle Martin, and a former Dutroux accomplice called Michel Lelievre.

While Dutroux has been charged with kidnapping six girls and murdering four of them, Nihoul is on trial only for his alleged involvement in the Delhez kidnap.

Langlois said his investigations had found that Nihoul might well have had links with Dutroux and Lelievre concerning drug dealing. The businessman is believed to have tried to sell Lelievre several hundred ecstasy tablets.

But there was no evidence to suggest this activity was in any way linked to the Delhez kidnap, the investigating magistrate said.

Other witnesses at the Dutroux trial have backed up Langlois’ arguments.

Earlier on Thursday, Langlois described how Dutroux and Lelievre had meticulously planned Sabine Dardenne’s kidnap. The two men had spotted the girl a week before they snatched her, the prosecutor said.

Langlois also explained how Dutroux had played psychological games with Dardenne after he had kidnapped her.

The investigating magistrate said Dutroux had told the young girl that her parents had abandoned her and were refusing to pay a ransom that his “boss” was asking for her safe return.

Dardenne apparently wrote several letters to her parents, begging them to pay the ransom so she could be freed and also apologising for being a bad daughter.

She gave the letters to Dutroux and believed he had posted them, Langlois said.

The trail continues.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Belgian news