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The BBC's Simon Wilson in Brussels
"The Belgian League of Human Rights is appalled"
 real 28k

Thursday, 10 August, 2000, 14:21 GMT 15:21 UK
Belgium concerned over paedophile list
Marc Dutroux at a court hearing
Dutroux has been charged with child-sex offences
Authorities in Belgium are trying to prevent the circulation of a list of suspected or convicted paedophiles.

The efforts follow the decision of a small French-language magazine in Luxembourg to publish the list of 50 such people, resident in Belgium.

The Investigator's list follows in the steps of the British newspaper the News of the World, whose publication of names and addresses of alleged paedophiles has led to rowdy protests over the past week.

Paedophilia is a particularly sensitive issue in Belgium, following a number of high-profile child abuse cases in recent years - most notably that of Marc Dutroux, who has been arrested on charges of abducting and abusing six girls, and is awaiting trial for murder.

Warning people

Alhough a Belgian court issued an emergency injunction against The Investigator, copies of the magazine containing the list had already been posted to subscribers in Belgium.

The magazine's editor, Jean Nicolas said the decision was aimed at warning the public.

He told the Belga news agency that the list had been obtained from the files of Jacques Langlois, the investigating magistrate in the Dutroux case.

Mr Nicolas said the list contained only names, and no photographs - either of the alleged paedophiles or their victims - had been published.

However, a Belgian court termed the decision an abuse of human rights and presumption of innocence.

In its injunction order, passed on Wednesday, the court said Mr Nicholas faced a fine of $20,000 for each copy that contained the list.

The Investigator, which began publication a year ago, has a circulation of about 1,000.

Most subscribers receive their copy through the mail.

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