[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 June, 2004, 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK
Belgium's Dutroux jailed for life
Marc Dutroux
Dutroux: Guilty of kidnap, rape and murder
Convicted paedophile child killer Marc Dutroux has been sentenced to life in prison for the kidnap, rape and murder of young girls.

A court in Arlon sentenced his ex-wife Michelle Martin to 30 years in prison for kidnapping and rape.

Co-accused Michel Lelievre got 25 years for kidnapping and drug-dealing. Michel Nihoul was jailed for five years for drug-dealing and counts of fraud.

This marks the end of a case which became notorious around the world.

Dutroux was found guilty last week of leading a gang that kidnapped and raped six girls in the mid-1990s, leading to the deaths of four of them.

Prosecutors had called for 30-year jail terms for Martin and Lelievre, and at least 10 years for Nihoul, a businessman.

Nihoul was acquitted of kidnapping, but convicted of smuggling drugs and people into Belgium.

'Danger to society'

After delivering the sentence, President Stephane Goux told Dutroux: "You have received the maximum sentence. You still come out of it better off than most of your victims who are no longer in the world of the living."

1993: Marc Dutroux freed early from child sex sentence; soon after, girls start to disappear near his houses
13 August 1996: Dutroux arrested
15 August 1996: Sabine Dardenne, 12, and Laetitia Delhez, 14, found alive in basement of house
17 August 1996: Bodies of Julie Lejeune and Melissa Russo, both 8, found buried
13 September 1996: Bodies of Eefje Lambrecks, 19, and An Marchal, 17, are found
1 March 2004: Dutroux and other suspects go on trial
In a 50-page decision which took almost an hour to read out and was shown live on Belgian television, Dutroux was described as "a danger to society".

Dutroux was handed a life sentence with a clause whereby the Belgian government can keep him in jail for another 10 years should he be paroled.

Dutroux's lawyer Martine Van Praet, who saw him just after the sentencing, said of his reaction: "He was as he always is. I think he was expecting this sentence, he was expecting to get the maximum."

Under Belgian law, sentencing was decided by the 12 jurors and the panel of three judges together.

No appeal of a jury verdict is possible, except on procedural grounds, reports the Associated Press news agency. In that case, the supreme court would review the verdict.

The four convicted have two weeks in which to lodge a possible appeal.

'Biggest losers'

The case has been dubbed Belgium's trial of the century.

Marc Dutroux, 47, unemployed electrician: Guilty of kidnap, rape, murder
Michelle Martin, 44, Dutroux's ex-wife: Guilty of conspiracy to kidnap
Michel Nihoul, 62, businessman: Acquitted of kidnapping
Michel Lelievre, 32: Guilty of kidnapping

The bodies of An Marchal, 17, and Eefje Lambrecks, 19, were found in 1996 in the garden of a house in the suburbs of the city of Charleroi owned by Dutroux. Post-mortem reports showed they had been raped and beaten before being drugged and buried alive.

The discovery came shortly after the bodies of two eight-year-olds, Melissa Russo and Julie Lejeune, were found in the garden of another property belonging to Dutroux. They had been repeatedly raped before dying of starvation, post-mortem reports showed.

One surviving victim who gave evidence at the trial was Sabine Dardenne, who was kept in a purpose-built dungeon in Dutroux's basement for 80 days and repeatedly raped before being rescued by police in 1996.

She was said to be "delighted" by the sentencing. "A good piece of justice has finally been done," said her lawyer, Celine Parisse.

Jean Lambrecks, father of Eefje, said he was "content" with the sentence. "But we are still the biggest losers because I lost a daughter and I'll never get her back," he added.

Some said they were alarmed that those implicated in the crimes - such as Nihoul - could be out of jail within a few years.

"It's scary that he didn't get the maximum," said Paul Marchal, father of An.

The BBC's Stephen Sackur
"47-year-old Marc Dutroux is looking at a life behind bars"

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific