Shock at Dutroux appeal
24 June 2004
BRUSSELS – Convicted child killer Marc Dutroux’s decision to appeal against his life sentence has caused widespread surprise and anger in Belgium, it was reported on Thursday.
Several media reported that Dutroux’s own lawyer had not been informed of his client’s decision to contest the life sentence he received on Tuesday.
Speaking to French news agency AFP, Dutroux’s lawyer Xavier Magnee said his client had signed the papers asking for an appeal himself, without consulting his legal advisors.
“Marc Dutroux signed his request in Arlon prison,” explained Magnee.
Dutroux was tried in the Belgian city of Arlon and is still being held in the prison there while the authorities decide where he will serve his life sentence.
Magnee said Dutroux would have around two weeks to explain why he wanted to contest against his sentence and that, if approved, an appeal hearing could begin in around a month.
But numerous legal experts were quick to point out on Wednesday that whatever happens, Dutroux will not be able to appeal against the substance of his sentence.
Under Belgian law he only has the right to contest certain technical matters concerning the way his trial was handled.
It was almost inconceivable that his sentence would be reduced, even if he were allowed to appeal, analysts said.
His decision to contest his sentence has nevertheless caused anger here.
“Dutroux appeals!” headlined a leading article in La Derniere Heure newspaper.
“The most famous condemned man in the country took the decision on his own, like a grown up, without even talking to his lawyers,” the newspaper continued sarcastically.
Meanwhile the court in Arlon also decided on Wednesday the damages Dutroux and his guilty accomplices must pay to his surviving victims as well as the families of the four girls he either murdered or left to die.
But analysts were quick to point out that it is unlikely that any of the amounts will be awarded in full as neither Dutroux, his ex wife Michelle Martin or his former sidekick Michel Lelievre have the money to pay the damages.
The largest awards went to Dutroux’s two surviving victims.
Sabine Dardenne who was twelve at the time Dutroux imprisoned and repeatedly raped her during ordeal lasting over eighty days was awarded EUR 500,000.
Laetitia Delhez, who was imprisoned and raped alongside Dardenne but for a shorter time, should receive EUR 300,000.
The two girls’ parents were also awarded EUR 50,000 each.
The parents of the four girls who died while being held prisoner by Dutroux were each awarded EUR 100,000.
Dutroux was found guilty of murdering two of the girls – seventeen year old An Marchal and Eefje Lambrecks.
The other two – Julie Lejeune and Melissa Russo, both aged eight – starved to death in a hidden cell at one of Dutroux’s properties, while he was serving a prison sentence.
Sums ranging from 12,500 to EUR 25,000 were also awarded to the brothers, sisters and grandparents of the victims.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news