Chronology of events in Belgian child sex-murder case

4th February 2013, Comments 0 comments

Here is a chronology of events in the case of Marc Dutroux, the Belgian "monster" serving a life sentence for a horrific spree of abductions, rapes and murders of schoolgirls.

Dutroux, who appeared Monday before a special court seeking to be released and placed under house arrest with an electronic tag, was found guilty in June 2004 of abducting and raping six girls, four of whom died.

He had previously been jailed in 1989 for 13 years for the abduction and rape of five girls, but was freed in 1992.


June 24: Julie Lejeune and Melissa Russo, both aged eight, are abducted from the suburbs of Liege, in eastern Belgium.

August 22: An Marchal, 17, and Eefje Lambrecks, 19, disappear in the port of Ostend.


May 28: Sabine Dardenne, 12, is abducted near the southeastern Belgian town of Tournai.

August 9: Laetitia Delhez, 14, abducted in Bertrix, in southeast Belgium.

August 13: Dutroux, an unemployed electrician, his wife Michelle Martin and an associate, Michel Lelievre, are arrested by police investigating Delhez's disappearance.

August 15: Dutroux's confessions enable police to rescue Laetitia and Sabine Dardenne from the cellar of a Dutroux property at Charleroi, south of Brussels. Sabine is severely emaciated.

On the same day, Michel Nihoul, a Brussels businessman, is arrested.

August 17: The bodies of Julie Lejeune and Melissa Russo are found buried in the garden of Dutroux's main residence at Sars La Buissiere in southern Belgium. The girls had starved to death.

August 18: Dutroux and Lelievre admit abducting An Marchal and Eefje Lambrecks.

August 22: Justice and public administration ministers are jeered at the funeral of Julie and Melissa. The funeral service triggers a wave of emotion among the Belgian public.

August 30: The Belgian government vows to reform the judicial system to step up the fight against paedophilia.

September 3: The bodies of An Marchal and Eefje Lambrecks are found at a property owned by Dutroux.

September 25: Dutroux is charged with the murder of his associate Bernard Weinstein, a Frenchman.

October 14: Examining magistrate Jean-Marc Connerotte is withdrawn from the case after he attends a benefit dinner organised by the families of Dutroux's victims.

Connerotte had raised the theory of a much larger paedophile network benefiting from high-level protection.

October 17: Parliament orders an inquiry into the shortcomings of the criminal justice system.

October 20: More than 300,000 people demonstrate in Brussels in the first of a series of a "white marches" called to vent public fury at official incompetence in the Dutroux case.

December 17: The examining magistrate investigating the abductions of Julie Lejeune and Melissa Russo accuses the Belgian police of withholding vital information.


April 15: A report by a parliamentary committee condemns the failings of Belgian police, justice systems and other national institutions.


February 17: A second report by the parliamentary committee rules that Dutroux did not benefit from high-level protection.

March 19: Psychiatric experts announce that Dutroux is not a paedophile but a "psychopath".

April 23: Dutroux escapes from the courthouse at Neufchateau, in southern Belgium. He is caught a few hours later near the French border. Interior Minister Johan Vande Lanotte and Justice Minister Stefaan de Clerck resign.

April 28: Belgian police chief General Willy Deridder resigns.


June 18: Dutroux sentenced to five years in jail for his brief escape in April 1998.


January 20: Dutroux, in an interview smuggled out of prison by a television network, claims he was part of a large paedophile network.


April 30: The Belgian justice department, having finally compiled all the evidence, orders Dutroux and his alleged accomplices stand trial and says the theory of a paedophile network, which officials were sceptical about, should be re-examined.


March 1: Dutroux goes on trial at the court of assizes in the small Belgian town of Arlon, near the Luxembourg border.

June 17: Dutroux is convicted by a 12-person jury on multiple charges of murder, rape and kidnapping girls as young as eight. However the jury acquitted co-defendant Michel Nihoul, accused of being the lynchpin of a paedophile gang, of any involvement in the abductions of several girls.

June 22: Dutroux is sentenced to life in prison by the jury and three-judge bench. His ex-wife Michelle Martin, 44, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for kidnapping and rape.

Accomplice Michel Lelievre is given a 25-year jail term for kidnapping and drug-dealing while Nihoul is sentenced to five years in jail for drug-dealing and fraud.


July 31: A court in western Mons grants parole to Martin on condition she stays in a remote convent that agreed to take her in.

August 28: Victims' families and prosecutors lose their appeal against Martin's early release, and she moves into the convent in the southern village of Malonne amid vociferous public protest.

September 14: Dutroux asks to be placed under house arrest with an electronic tag.

November 17: Julie Lejeune's father Jean-Denis Lejeune meets Martin, with no reports filtering out on their conversation.


February 4: Dutroux appears before a special court hearing his application for release to house arrest with an electronic tag, just three months before he completes 16 years of his life sentence.

© 2013 AFP

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