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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 April, 2003, 13:18 GMT 14:18 UK
Dutroux to face jury trial
Suspect Marc Dutroux
Dutroux has admitted abduction but denied murder

A court in the Belgian city of Liege has ordered a trial by jury for the suspected paedophile and child killer Marc Dutroux.

The trial has been delayed for more than six years as police tried to determine the extent of a wider paedophile ring.

Mr Dutroux is accused of the rape and murder of four girls, and the rape of two others found alive together at one of his properties.

AFP news agency quoted lawyers as saying he would be tried along with his wife Michele Martin and two other men - Michel Lelievre and Michel Nihoul.

No date was set but the trial is expected to take place later this year or early next year.

Mr Nihoul was initially portrayed as the lynchpin of a wider paedophile ring but there have been doubts about whether there is sufficient evidence against him.

'Wider conspiracy'

Belgium was shocked and revolted by the killings discovered in August 1996.

But outrage soon turned to anger at perceived incompetence on the part of investigators, triggering huge street demonstrations.

Mr Dutroux has admitted being involved in the abduction of six girls, but insisted he had nothing to do with the killings.

He has accused the Belgian police and justice system of refusing to investigate leads he provided, which he says would prove that he was just part of a wider paedophile conspiracy.

Belgian officials say that the long delay bringing the case to court partly results from the need to investigate alleged networks, which they say do not exist.




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