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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 June 2006, 06:53 GMT 07:53 UK
Belgian charged over kidnappings
Missing Belgian girls Stacy Lemmens (right) and Nathalie Mahy
The missing girls dominate the news in Belgium
Belgian police have charged a man with kidnapping two schoolgirls, who are still missing after disappearing on Friday night.

The two stepsisters, aged seven and 10, vanished at 0130 in the morning during a street party in Liege.

The case has revived Belgians' memories of Marc Dutroux's paedophile killings.

The suspect, Abdellah Ait Oud, 39, turned himself in to police after the authorities had publicised his details, but has denied any involvement.

Reports say he was seen near Stacy Lemmens, who is seven, and Nathalie Mahy, 10, before they disappeared.

He is said to be the boyfriend of a waitress who works in a bar near the spot where the girls were last seen.

The general prosecutor of Liege, Cedric Visart de Bocarme, said he "had not confessed" during questioning.

Police searched his home on Tuesday.

Sniffer dog teams have also been searching abandoned houses and a railway line near where the girls disappeared, while divers checked a nearby canal.

"We still hope to find them alive," said the Liege prosecutor.

Criminal record

In 1995 Abdellah Ait Oud was sentenced to five years in jail, including one suspended, for the rape of his 14-year-old niece, Belgian media report.

Police search suspect's home in Liege
Police searched Abdellah Ait Oud's home in Liege
In April 2001 he was rearrested for the rape and kidnap while on parole of another 14-year-old girl, the Belgian RTBF news website reports.

He was declared mentally unstable and detained, but last December he was released, as the authorities were satisfied that he had been "cured".

Belgium was deeply shocked by the Marc Dutroux paedophile case, in which two girls from Liege disappeared in June 1995.

Their bodies were not found until a year later - in Dutroux's garden.

In 2004 Dutroux was found guilty of leading a gang that kidnapped and raped six girls in the mid-1990s, leading to the deaths of four of them.

See Belgian police scouring the country for the two girls

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