Marc Dutroux, A Pedophile and Child-Killer
One week after Delhez and Dardenne harrowing testimonies, the two women returned to the dungeon where they were held captive, beaten and repeatedly raped by Dutroux before being freed in 1996. Accompany the women were several judges, court officials, lawyers, family members of the victims and Dutroux. According to the BBC article "Dutroux Victims Return to Cell," the women returned to the house in Marcinelle to "come to terms" with their ordeal. They also wanted those present to understand the horrific conditions in which they were held captive and what they experienced.
Back in court, Dutroux continued to deny that he was a murderer, placing responsibility on his alleged accomplices, Michel Lelievre, Michel Nihoul and his ex-wife, Michelle Martin. However, Dutroux did confess to the rape and kidnapping charges against him for which he expressed his "sincere regret." Yet, for the victims it was already too late.
On June 14, 2004, the jury, consisting of eight women and four men were sent out to deliberate at the end of a three-month-trial. The jurists convened at a fortified Arlon army barracks to review approximately 400,000 pages of evidence, including the testimonies of over 500 witnesses. Moreover, the judge gave them 243 questions to evaluate, pertaining to the criminal charges against Dutroux, Martin, Lelievre and Nihoul.
It took a little more than three days for the jury to come back with a verdict. On June 17th, Dutroux was found guilty of kidnapping and raping all six girls. He was also convicted of murdering An Marchel and Eefje Lambrecks, as well as his alleged accomplice Bernard Weinstein.
Additionally, Lelievre was also found guilty of kidnapping but managed to escape murder charges. The jury has not yet come to a decision on the fate of Martin, who later admitted at trial to starving 8-year-old Melissa Russo and Julie Lejeune to death. There is a strong chance that she will be condemned for the children's deaths.
According to the BBC article "Child Killer Convicted in Belgium," the jury could not agree on a verdict concerning the case of Nihoul. In both his and Martin's cases, the jury was sent back to further review evidence and complete the 243 questions handed down by the judge. A verdict is expected sometime around June 24th, around the same time Dutroux's sentence will be handed down.
The defendants face a maximum sentence of life in prison. However, they could be eligible for parole after 10 years on good behavior. Belgium has no death penalty, yet the Dutroux case has prompted many to rethink capital punishment laws. It is clear that there is no place for people like Dutroux in today's society.
June 22, 2004 brought a life sentence to Dutroux. He was also "put at the government's disposition," which means that if he were released at some point in the future, the government could send him back to prison. Michelle Martin was sentenced to 30 years in jail and Michel Lelievre got 25 years.
Michel Nihoul was sentenced to five years.
What has never been satisfactorily answered for the people of Belgium is whether the network of pedophiles that Dutroux claimed to be serving ever really existed.