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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 June, 2004, 12:23 GMT 13:23 UK
Timeline: Dutroux paedophile case
Belgian paedophile Marc Dutroux, 47, is on trial for the murder of four young girls. The bodies of two teenage girls, An Marchal and Eefje Lambrecks, and two eight-year-olds, Melissa Russo and Julie Lejeune, were found buried at properties belonging to him. Mr Dutroux, on trial with three others, has denied killing the girls, but admitted to kidnapping and rape.

24 June 1995: Eight-year-olds Julie Lejeune and Melissa Russo disappear near their home in Grace-Hollogne, east Belgium.

23 August 1995: An Marchal, 17, and Eefje Lambrecks, 19, go missing during a holiday at the seaside town of Ostend.

6 December 1995: Mr Dutroux is arrested on car theft and other charges. He is convicted and spends nearly four months in prison.

28 May 1996: Sabine Dardenne, 12, disappears while riding her bike to school in the town of Kain, south-west Belgium.

9 August 1996: Laetitia Delhez, 14, disappears after leaving a swimming pool in her home town of Bertrix, south-east Belgium.

13 August 1996: Mr Dutroux, his ex-wife Michelle Martin and Michel Lelievre are detained in Sars-la-Buissiere, south Belgium.

15 August 1996: Mr Dutroux leads police to makeshift cell in house in Charleroi suburb of Marcinelle where Sabine Dardenne and Laetitia Delhez are found alive. Both have been drugged and sexually abused.

16 August 1996: Mr Dutroux admits kidnapping An Marchal and Eefje Lambrecks. Fourth suspect Michel Nihoul is detained.

17 August 1996: Mr Dutroux admits killing suspected accomplice Bernard Weinstein and takes police to the bodies of Julie Lejeune, Melissa Russo and Weinstein buried in the backyard of a Sars-la-Buissiere house.

3 September 1996: Police find remains of An Marchal and Eefje Lambrecks under a garden shed at Weinstein's house in Charleroi suburb of Jumet.

20 October 1996: Some 300,000 people march on Brussels in support of victims' families and to protest against the authorities for the bungled investigation into missing girls.

9 April 1997: Parliamentary interim report into the Dutroux case finds police "inhumane, inept, inefficient and ill-equipped" and lists blunders and rivalry during probe.

23 April 1998: Mr Dutroux escapes custody during a court visit but is swiftly recaptured. Belgium's police chief, justice minister and interior minister resign.

1 March 2004: Trial begins in town of Arlon.

Trial: Key moments

4 March 2004: Jean-Marc Connerotte, who led the initial investigation, testifies.

18 March 2004: A key to a pair of handcuffs is found near Mr Dutroux's prison cell, hidden in a bag of salt in a kitchen. The keys fit Mr Dutroux's cuffs.

19 April 2004: Sabine Dardenne appears in court and gives dramatic testimony against her abuser - asking him why he did not kill her.

20 April 2004: Laetitia Delhez takes the stand, describing how she was chained to a bed and raped after being abducted.

27 April 2004: The court and the two surviving victims, Sabine Dardenne and Laetitia Delhez, visit the cell where the girls were imprisoned.

24 May 2004: The lawyers for both sides begin making their final arguments.

10 June 2004: Mr Dutroux makes a final appeal to the court in which he says he is not a murderer.

14 June 2004: The jury retires to consider its verdict.

17 June 2004: Dutroux convicted of murder and leading a child kidnap gang.


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