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Friday, 13 March, 1998, 19:05 GMT
Lawyer for dead girls' parents in Belgian paedophilia case

resigns The lawyer for the families of two of the girls found dead in the paedophile case involving convicted child rapist Marc Dutroux has resigned from the case, Belgian RTBF radio reported on Friday.

The lawyer, Victor Hissel, refused to explain his decision, saying he had taken it so as "not to make the situation worse.

His clients, the parents of Julie Lejeune and Melissa Russo took the news badly and said he had been the victim of pressure and intimidation.

The father of Julie Lejeune said on the radio: "Maitre Hissel has been the object of varied pressures and acts of intimidation, and now, well, he has been reduced to silence, he can no longer defend Julie and Melissa.". Carine Russo, Melissa's mother, said, also in broadcast remarks: "I don't know if this will jeopardize the prosecution of the case, it is not the lawyers who carry out the investigations, but it has in effect endangered our little girls'defence, that's for sure, because as far as I - as far as the four of us are concerned, Victor Hissel is irreplaceable." The radio quoted "certain voices" at the Liege courts of justice of speaking of "a publicity coup" and said they were "wagering that Victor Hissel will resume his brief in a week's time".

It also said Hissel's resignation "must have brought comfort to another lawyer, Michel Graindorge, who propounds the thesis that anyone challenging the Belgian establishment will meet with strong resistance."

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


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