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The world’s eyes on Belgium

Published on 27/02/2004

27 February 2004

BRUSSELS – Over a thousand journalists and other media professionals from all over the world were on Friday preparing to descend on the sleepy Belgian town of Arlon to report on the trial Marc Dutroux, Belgium’s notorious suspected child murderer.

According to the Belgian authorities over 1,300 journalists, cameramen and women, sound engineers and other media professionals have been given official accreditation to cover the ‘Dutroux Trail’, which opens in Arlon on Monday.

Sixty two Belgian media outlets, including newspapers and television and radio stations, will be covering the trial and a staggering 190 foreign media will also be present.

 In total the Dutroux trial will be followed in Arlon by 100 television stations, 97 daily newspapers, 38 radio stations and 15 press agencies.

That makes 250 media outlets in total.

By comparison, 200 media asked for accreditation to the recent opening of the trial of former Yugoslav dictator Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague.

Most of the journalists heading for Arlon will be unlikely to spend much time in the courthouse where Dutroux and his co-defendants will be tried.

The building only has places in its press gallery for 15 people.

Everyone else will have to watch proceedings via television monitors which have been set up in the nearby press centre.

Arlon’s Mayor Guy Larcier this week told Expatica that he will do all he can to ensure the media covering the trial have everything they need to do their jobs properly.

But at the same time he made it clear that he and his fellow townsfolk feel no great joy that Belgium’s most hated man will be tried on their patch.

“The residents of Arlon did not ask for this trial, nor did the magistrate, nor did the mayor of Arlon,” he said.

Dutroux was arrested in 1996 as subsequently charged with the kidnap and murder of several young girls, including Melissa Russo and Julie Lejeune, whose faces had featured on a country-wide missing persons poster campaign for months previously.

The Dutroux case revealed monumental levels of police bungling, sparked allegations of paedophile networks involving senior members of the Belgian establishment and saw public confidence in the country’s politicians and justice system plummet to an all time low.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

                                                      Subject: Belgian news