Page last updated at 14:47 GMT, Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Belgian 'admits creche murders'

Belgian newspapers
Belgian newspapers picture the man suspected of creche murders

The Belgian man charged with killing two babies and a nurse at a creche near Brussels has admitted carrying out the murders, his lawyer has said.

Kim De Gelder, 20, "understands that what he did was inhuman", lawyer Jaak Haentjes said.

He was arrested following Friday's knife rampage through a nursery in the town of Dendermonde, in which 13 people were also hurt - most of them babies.

He appeared before court on Tuesday, which remanded him into custody.

Authorities say they also suspect him of killing an elderly woman.

Prosecutor Christian Du Four said he was believed to have been behind the stabbing of a 73-year-old woman in her home in Beveren, not far from Dendermonde, a week earlier.

Mr Haentjes said his client had denied all knowledge of that attack.

Motive 'a mystery'

Mr De Gelder has so far refused to talk to investigators about the rampage through the Fabeltjesland daycare centre.

But he opened up to his lawyer.

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"I think that he feels regret. That's what he says, but it would be going too far to say that he repents," Mr Haentjes told the Belga news agency.

"It was a constructive discussion, about his life, but also the incident. The reason why he chose babies in a creche as his victims remains a mystery. I want to know why he did that. He too, he is ready to help in that sense," the lawyer said.

He also said that Mr De Gelder had been troubled by depression as a teenager and at one point heard voices in his head, but that a psychiatrist had concluded that he did not need to be sent to a mental institution.

The incident has shocked Belgium, and on Monday night Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy and other government ministers joined the latest vigil outside the creche, at which the victims' parents were also present.

Mr De Gelder has been described as "immature", "shy" and a "loner", by acquaintances tracked down by the Belgian press.

The media have reported that he was wearing make-up at the time of the attack, that made him look like the Joker character from the Batman films, but police say that is not confirmed.

But police have said he was carrying a list of nurseries, and they suspect he may have been planning to launch further attacks.

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