BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: Programmes: Correspondent Europe  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
 Friday, 26 April, 2002, 13:45 GMT 14:45 UK
Belgium's X Files Forum: Have your say
Olenka Frenkiel answers a selection of your questions
Olenka Frenkiel answers a selection of your questions

We apologise that due to unforeseen circumstances the live interactive forum with Olenka Frenkiel and Marie-Jeanne Van Heeswyck has been cancelled.

Olenka Frenkiel answers a selection of your e-mails

Q It seems sadly appropriate that in a story of dark-dealings, cover-ups and hiding the truth, the live chat with Olenka Frankel and Marie-Jeanne van Heeswyck should be mysteriously cancelled!
Toby Crozier, UK

A Nothing mysterious. I'm afraid the medium is new to us and some unforeseen problems emerged. I won't bore you with the details but basically it was my fault. Sorry.
Olenka Frenkiel

Q I was wondering if it was not possible that Europe's police forces put pressure on the Belgium government. I always hear of concerted busts of paedophile rings in Europe. And if the police forces cannot do so could the European Union not step in and force them to solve paedophilia in Belgium?
Suzan Demirates, England

A One might have thought so but you enter a marshmallowy world when you try to talk to these Euro institutions. They can't even offer me standardised statistics on missing children throughout Europe comparing country by country. I would have thought that might be step one in establishing whether Belgium is different or not.
Olenka Frenkiel

Why do I have to look to BBC television to see things that nobody want to say in Belgium

Karel Goegebuer
Q Why do I have to look to BBC television to see things that nobody want to say in Belgium. Why are the victims of Dutroux helped by a Dutch television station and not by Belgian Government? Why do we have a minister Verwilgen in Belgium who is afraid of saying anything? It is good that other people who are in the Belgian government cannot harm or say anything! Thank you for that.
Karel Goegebuer, Belgium

A Thank you for your email. Perhaps this is one good outcome of "globalization" -
Olenka Frenkiel

Q What of the two girls found alive? Do they not have any damning testimony? Well done on the programme by the way.
Jeff Evans, UK

A Thanks. The two living girls were drugged for most of the time they were in the cellar and do not remember events very clearly. Rohypnol, the date rape drug, was a favourite drug of Dutroux when he abducted children. He even murdered a former accomplice by giving him rohypnol and then burying him alive. His body was found with earth in the lungs.

Laetitia the older survivor remembers Sabine trying to persuade her to play a computer game, which Dutroux had provided but she was too sleepy. They both told police Dutroux had raped them repeatedly - as for anyone else, it's not clear. Laetitia was only there for just over a week. They will probably be called to testify if and when Dutroux eventually comes to trial. An excellent little documentary on Laetitia was made by Dutch TV, which showed she had received no counselling or psychological help after being released. A Dutch businesswoman has now taken up her case and is paying for help and for her continued education. I spoke to both girls but they have shied away from publicity and I didn't want to press them.
Olenka Frenkiel

Q I have just seen the BBC programme, and am of course horrified by the apparent mishandling of the 'X' files case. Is it possible to have a more extensive media investigation of the claims and the many unexplained deaths of witnesses in the case? Given the public attitude in the UK towards paedophilia, could an approach not be made to a major newspaper here so that an adequate investigation of all of the threads of the case can be undertaken?
Andy Ross, UK

A Well I wrote the article in the Observer last Sunday - they were really keen on the piece. And I have a lot more information about this but there's a limit to how much you can cram into 45 minutes. There's enough here for a book. Maybe you could write it?
Olenka Frenkiel

The truth is that those journalists who tell the story complain that they have been harassed, sacked, threatened and many say they have been forced to stop reporting on this issue to continue working

Olenka Frenkiel
Q The programme seemed to imply that at least one TV channel was either directly or indirectly trying to discredit the suggestions that Dutroux was not working alone. Are there countervailing opinions in the media? Would, for instance, something like your own programme have ever been made in Belgium?
Mark Bertenshaw, UK

A Yes there is a power struggle between the two views. I have had emails from Belgians who say "Oh no not this again" and others who've said - "why do we have to wait for foreigners to tell the truth about our country. Why don't our own networks tell this story? The truth is that those journalists who tell the story complain that they have been harassed, sacked, threatened and many say they have been forced to stop reporting on this issue to continue working. There is one rival programme on RTBF that has occasionally tried to tell the other side (my side) of the story but theirs has been a losing battle. I cannot allege a conspiracy in Au Nom de La Loi but I can say that they knowingly misrepresented Regina Louf as a lying fantasist who had unfairly accused her innocent parents of giving her away for sex as a child. They knew Regina's allegations were true as the parents and the abuser had already admitted this to the police and the programme makers knew this. Why they chose to misrepresent her? I don't know. Why they chose to make a programme claiming Nihoul was innocent? I don't know. Why they devoted another programme to "proving" that Dutroux was an isolated pervert? I don't know.
Olenka Frenkiel

Q Have there been any discussions towards setting up an authority that can work between countries in the pursuit of bringing to justice the members of these rings of abusers. We are always seeking to put the safety of our children above all else. The time is now to put the actions in place instead of the empty words.
Hugh Aitkin, UK

A Yes there are lots of organisations, which claim to deal with missing children. But ask them if, for example they have properly collected standardised figures for European countries, comparing like with like allowing us to see which country has the worst record and which the best - none of them can provide this. Belgium, Holland, France - all have huge police departments devoted to this problem - there's something in Brussels, something in The Hague, there's Interpol etc. But not one of them has allocated the public funding they receive to this simple task of collating good information. That to me is a scandal.
Olenka Frenkiel

Q How is holding Dutroux in what appears to be "protective custody" compatible with The European Convention on Human Rights - i.e. detention without trial? Have the parents no further appeal to European Court of Human Rights?
Peter Williamson, UK

A The European convention says a "reasonable time" must not be exceeded in jail without trial. It is now six years - that is stretching it a bit. The rules are, you have to exhaust the legal system in your own country before you can go to Europe. That has yet to play itself out both for the Russos and Regina Louf and the policemen involved. The problem for them is that the longer it is dragged out, the more costly the legal fees and they just don't have the resources for years and years of litigation. But they are trying.
Olenka Frenkiel

Since the Belgian government and establishment are clearly implicated, isn't it time that the much-vaunted EU Europol became involved

Brian Singleton
Q What an absolutely rational and compelling programme. Since the Belgian government and establishment are clearly implicated, isn't it time that the much-vaunted EU Europol became involved and carried out an independent investigation?
Brian Singleton, UK

A Good luck. They can't even tell me how Belgium's missing children record compares with that of other countries. I won't hold my breath.
Olenka Frenkiel

Q I was wondering if it was not possible that Europe's police forces put pressure on the Belgium government. I always hear of concerted busts of paedophile rings in Europe. And if the police forces cannot do so could the European Union not step in and force them to solve paedophilia in Belgium?
Suzan Demirates, England

A One might have thought so but you enter a marshmallowy world when you try to talk to these Euro instritutions. They can't even offer me standardised statistics on missing children throughout Europe comparing country by country. I would have thought that might be step one in establishing whether Belgium is different or not.
Olenka Frenkiel

Q One obvious thought strikes me: Why has nobody sat down with the surviving girl(s) and shown them photos of all politicians serving at that time - to see if any faces ring a bell?
Paul Dunwell, UK

A The two surviving girls will be witnesses if Dutroux comes to trial so it is difficult to interview them as they have generally refused to discuss details of their incarceration. The other problem is that Dutroux kept his victims almost permanently anaesthetized. His drug of choice was rohypnol the date rape drug that he administered as soon as they were abducted and kept topping up. Consequently their memories are hazy.

Besides the police did start to do that with the X witnesses but their bosses have now dismissed all the progress they made as useless. The authorities do have the names of those who are identified by victims. So do I. We cannot publish them because we don't have the proof and could therefore be sued for libel especially as the Procureur General has dismissed the allegations as nonsense or fantasy. But the evidence against 3 of them is quite strong according to the police to whom I spoke - but they of-course are not allowed to continue with the investigation.
Olenka Frenkiel

What I don't understand is why there has not been more uproar about this in Belgium

Michael
Q What I have read has absolutely made my blood boil. What I don't understand is why there has not been more uproar about this in Belgium? Do the Belgian people not care, do they find it an embarrassment and want to just forget about it? Politicians are usually very quick to demand inquiries when there has been a foul-up by the police, why not now?
Michael, Dublin, Ireland

A They seem to suffer from dutroux fatigue and an indignation that their country is now known as a pedophile's haven. They were outraged in 1996 and 1997 when they marched on Brussels. But they've had enough. They're fed up with it and no longer really care. They also are confused. They don't any more know whom to believe.
Olenka Frenkiel

A They seem to suffer from dutroux fatigue and an indignation that their country is now known as a pedophile's haven. They were outraged in 1996 and 1997 when they marched on Brussels. But they've had enough. They're fed up with it and no longer really care. They also are confused. They don't any more know whom to believe.
Olenka Frenkiel

Q Excellent programme. Do you think there are any lessons for the UK Policing particularly in relation to the independence of investigations and political or judicial influence of the police?
Stuart Hyde, UK

A After my research I strongly believe that our criminal justice system is more effective and accountable in Britain than in Belgium. But we have had our pedophile rings in Britain which have also been ignored and uninvestigated by police and social services. I refer you to the excellent Newsnight programme a year or so ago which exposed such a ring in Liverpool and forced the authorities to stop ignoring the testimonies they had had for years. Since the programme, which elicited frank confessions from some of the perpetrators, they have been prosecuted. Thanks for getting in touch.
Olenka Frenkiel

As a social worker I am utterly horrified about the apparent mismanagement of this investigation and the implications about the justice system in Belgium. Totally shocked and dismayed.
Sian McKinnon, Scotland

It is demoralising to think that the rights we hold as sacred almost can be so easily disregarded

Anber Raz
I watched this investigative programme with great unease. It's frustrating to think that this form of corruption could exist on such a large scale, concerning such an horrific crime, yet there is nothing that can be done about it. We are not as free, democratic as we think. It is demoralising to think that the rights we hold as sacred almost can be so easily disregarded. My deepest sympathies go to the parents of these girls along with a hope that this investigation will encourage people to lobby the Belgian government to take action.
Anber Raz, UK

Well, I've been left absolutely shell-shocked after watching you're programme. Unfortunately words aren't enough but it is clear to see that Belgium is protecting it's powerful which makes theses crimes even more scary. I'd also just like to say how much I admire the bravery of Regina. Thank you.
Mark Beecher, England

Firstly I'd just like to congratulate you on an excellent report, which asked some urgent if awkward questions. I would like to ask why, do you believe, child abuse, as sadistic and murderous as that described by the Xs, continues, seemingly unchallenged in a civilised society?
Elizabeth Scott, UK

You commented on various people who were going to tell the police about the rapists...then they died before they got a chance. Did the police ever look into these cases? Did they just dismiss them? Did they not think maybe there was a link?
Clare Knight, England

Thank you once again and lets not forget the girls

Vivienne Boon
I just want to thank you for covering this story again. It should not be forgotten, but the longer these cases go on the more passive people become. Can we at least make sure that when the national press in the country are telling as many lies as the officials, the foreign press keep on hammering to get the truth...Thank you once again and lets not forget the girls.
Vivienne Boon, Holland

Could you not get the European court to take over the investigation of this horrifying case? Whatever you do I wish you good luck as the rest of the world can surely have no faith in the Belgian justice system now.
Pekelbe, UK

I am from Belgium and like all respectable people there I am horrified by the Dutroux scandal. We have not forgotten Julie, Melissa and all the other children who have disappeared or were abused or killed. We all hope that justice will be done one day, and that the guilty - whoever they are - will be punished, but what can we do? Maybe more programmes like yours will help...
Brigitte Descy, UK

I wonder if the truth will come out after the 30-year rule has passed? Congratulations on an excellent documentary.
Philip de Cadenet, UK

Spawned by the Internet, all recent cases of child exploitation have proved to be communal in nature. As a tradesman I looked at the door in the cellar and recognised a construction that put the builder at the top of his trade and not short of intelligence; did he not imagine what this was for or was he at least one of the network?
Gerry Pope, Ireland

I was the victim of a network in the UK featured by Sarah Macdonald. I was ignored and branded a liar for years. It took the media to shame the authorities into action and finally we got some justice. But only after hundreds more victims. They put us through hell for it. I hope you get some justice much if I can help in any way.
Shy Keenan, UK

'We apologise that due to unforeseen circumstances the live interactive forum with Olenka Frenkiel and Marie-Jeanne Van Heeswyck has been cancelled.' This sounds like yet another excuse to withhold information in the 'Detroux' investigation. Your programme was much appreciated and threw some fresh light on what has been, at the least, yet another demoralising example of the corrupt Belgian legal system. As an Anglophone living in Belgium I welcome investigative reports into what must be one of Belgium's most notorious and obscene miscarriages of justice in recent times. Continue the good work. Nothing is being done here to resolve a story as awful as this one.
G.Egan, Belgium

There is nothing sinister in the cancellation - there were genuine unforeseen problems. I won't bore you with the details but basically it was my fault. Sorry.
Olenka Frenkiel

Q What is the feeling among the general population in Belgium now? And will this be an active political issue in an election or is it a cancer that is spread across the system, so no one wants to mention it.
Liam, Ireland

There is no doubt among Belgians - that the Belgian Justice system is seriously flawed

Olenka Frenkiel
A Hard to know really. My feeling was that they are sick to death of hearing about it. It is said that Belgium is divided between "believers" and "non-believers" - i.e. those who believe Regina Louf and de Baets and those who don't. I felt it rather differently almost every person you ask will volunteer the opinion that something has been covered up, something stinks, something is not normal about the Dutroux affair and the way it has been dealt with. But they have had enough of mystery and conspiracy theory. They no longer have any patience to concentrate on the details and can't bear to listen to any more horror stories.

They feel they can't do anything about it and want to get on with their lives. But there is no doubt among Belgians from a very senior Government advisor I met down to the ordinary citizen - that the Belgian Justice system is seriously flawed. A series of 28 murders in the 1980s, known as the supermarket murders in which 28 people were shot in supermarket car-parks in mafia style hits has never been solved. The shootings had the same signature and some of the guns used were tracked to the gendarmerie. The socialist politician Andre Cools was killed in 1991 and that has never come to trial. As one senior Belgian said to me citing these examples "You must not underestimate how bad Belgian justice is."
Olenka Frenkiel

Q Couldn't the European Court of Human Rights take up this case?
Lauren Millar, England

A The lawyers of Dutroux and Michel Martin, his wife have threatened to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights. European law says prisoners cannot be held without trial for more than "a reasonable time" The fact that they have been held without trial for 6 years is stretching that definition.

But I take it your question refers not to Dutroux's human rights but to Regina's. I think the rule there is that you have to have exhausted the law courts of your own country before you can take the case to Europe. The two people who are fighting are Patriek de Baets, (the policeman who first interviewed Regina) and his colleague Aime Bille. If they don't get justice through their own courts they plan to take it to Europe. But the whole process is very expensive for them - the legal fees are punitive. So far they have won all the cases in Belgium. It's just the process is slow because they don't have the funding.
Olenka Frenkiel

As I watched the programme I felt sick at the thought of what those poor girls, only 2 years younger than myself, endured. If these men are not brought to justice in this life I hope they pay in the next.
Amy, England

I've just seen the documentary you made about the X-files of those poor children in Belgium. It was a very touching piece of work with a very powerful message. I want to congratulate you and wish you luck on any further investigation. I would also like to send condolences to the parents of those girls, and may their souls rest in peace. Thank you.
Elizabeth, England

It is always the ordinary person in the street who are prayed on by the officials the rich and the powerful this programme demonstrates just how these people get away with murder until the ordinary man in the street says enough is enough an independent outside of Belgium group should be bought in to investigate the perpetrators of the original crimes and also the people who helped to hide them for as they are as guilty as the perverts.
Rebecca Gourlay, England

As a Police officer with 22 years service here in England I am astounded at the treatment of my fellow colleagues in Belgium

Tony Jenkins
As a Police officer with 22 years service here in England I am astounded at the treatment of my fellow colleagues in Belgium. I don't believe the government here in England could get away with this. Although I don't know the ins and outs of the Belgian matters my gut reaction is that this corruption reaches the highest echelons of the Belgian government. They should be ashamed of their treatment of this investigation! When corruption reaches these levels it is unlikely those poor parents will ever find the truth, but I wish them well
Tony Jenkins, England

This was a shocking report on the investigation (or the lack of it) in the Dutroux affaire. We got more information from you than we EVER got from Belgian media. We feel betrayed by the Belgian media and politicians who apparently hope that the entire story will be forgotten.
Przemko Tylzanowski & Kristin Verschueren, Belgium

I find it odd that the Belgian authorities discount the possibility of a network particularly in the light of the recent news that a network appears to have been operating in Auxerre in France where from memory 18 young women have disappeared and two investigating magistrates have been heavily criticised and files have gone missing!
Stephen, England

It seems obvious that someone doesn't want the truth to come out. Cover up? I think so, anyone with their eyes open must think so. If this is the case, then surely there are powerful people in the Government, Justice, and Police involved in child abuse in Belgium. Maybe it is time that the European Union gets involved. Also, who is to say that what has happened in Belgium may also have happened in other countries, the UK included. Thank you for showing the programme, and I hope the children, their parents, and Belgium eventually get some justice.
Cenwyn Jones, UK

Could not the unfortunate parents take the matter to the European Court? If money is a problem, could not a fund be set up to which I would gladly contribute?
John Hart, England

I had a pen friend in Ghent at the same time the abductions happened and he worked in the police force. He suddenly stopped writing. It seemed a little odd as we had been writing a lot. I just wonder if he was involved?
Nessa Rumens, UK

I cannot believe that such an evil has gone unpunished! 20 people died mysteriously and yet nothing has been uncovered. I shudder with fear at the children that go missing in Belgium and around the world. It is a scandal and you should not give up - KEEP SEARCHING FOR THE TRUTH!
Karen Balman, England

When a country's judicial system seems incapable of investigating a straightforward case - forensic evidence should even now, still be possible, and certainly in this country I suspect that exhumation would still deliver forensic evidence. If the Belgians cannot collect such evidence, can the citizens sue for breach of their human rights based on the incompetence of their government, and have the case investigated by an independent authority, does it make any sense to form a European criminal investigation unit?

Every country has had its problems - remember when the newly appointed Chief of Police came in and sacked the whole of the Manchester Fraud squad? With regard to sacking a magistrate that had dinner with victims and supported their fund raising, I agree this was unwise, but a conflict of interest is not necessarily proven. No one can be more partial than the parents of the victims, but surely they only want to see the right people brought to justice, not any person at any cost. In view of the public outcry, I think the Belgians should reinstate the Magistrate.
Fay Green, UK

I find it really terrible that a major country like Belgium should hide investigation into such a sick network

V B Rumsey
Good luck with your investigation. I find it really terrible that a major country like Belgium should hide investigation into such a sick network. Come on, Belgium, wake up and expose the truth.
V B Rumsey, England

Thank you for a clear-sighted report of a very murky area. Because I have had to listen to the testimonies of people who have experienced similar networks in the UK, I very much value airtime given to saying things, which are not palatable to many. Good wishes, and thanks
Julian Turner, UK

I am utterly disgusted that a country as developed as Belgium could allow such a travesty to happen. The Belgian people must be terrified for the safety of their children. Clearly this is a massive cover up in order to protect people whom the government of Belgium feels are worthy of such protection. I am utterly horrified by this, and feel that surely there is something that other countries within Europe can do to investigate this terrible cover up
Stu Briscoe, UK

I found the programme extremely interesting and disturbing. What I don't understand is why most Belgians seem to accept the situation after their initial strong protest. Doesn't the desire to protect their own children over ride all other concerns?
Eleanor Dobson, UK

Q What your investigation failed (or wasn't allowed) to mention that a growing number of issues have arisen concerning possible links between the alleged protection of Dutroux et al & the Belgian Royal Family. In 2000 a French journalist published a book allegedly proving links between paedophile networks & the Royal Family of Belgium, It was of course outlawed to be published here & was hushed up surprisingly quickly.
Steve McMillan, Belgium

The problems with the allegations against the King are that they are not very well substantiated and we would not want to accuse anyone, King or not, of such a crime unless there were substantial evidence

Olenka Frenkiel
A We are aware of the book. There were many aspects of the case that weren't squeezed in to the 45 minutes we are allocated. There was a lot to explain to a British audience who know almost nothing about the case. So we left a lot of extremely strong material out - simple because we could not fit it in. The problems with the allegations against the King are that they are not very well substantiated and we would not want to accuse anyone, King or not, of such a crime unless there were substantial evidence.

I have asked many people on all sides of the case about the allegations against the King. Even among those who are convinced of a network involving very senior Belgians - even among those who believe there has been a cover up - there are very few whom the Nicholas book convinces and some even fear it may be a red herring deliberately planted into the story to discredit the other stronger evidence. Where you have a cover-up, conspiracy theories proliferate. But if I had an extra 30 minutes to add to the programme, the material about the Royal family would not make it.
Olenka Frenkiel

Q Another investigation on the Dutroux affair? Fair enough.... unfortunately this reporter is simply showing her vision of this terrible affair...every other journalist has his "truth" about this and conclusions are always different though. Although this time it gets seriously on my nerves: where did this reporter found out this figure about missing children in Belgium? Kidnapping kids aren't our favourite national sport, there are no more children disappearing than in any other civilised country and beside amongst the figure she gave, many of them are illegal minor immigrants that vanished away because of foreign mafia networks. Please stop this crap about Belgium. Besides the Dutroux's trial is planned.
Thierry Goffeau, Brussels

A I'm sorry you didn't like the programme. You may be very familiar with the various journalists' views in Belgium but the British have been spared this story. Far from "another story about Dutroux" in Britain the story has hardly been told at all. It was all-new to British viewers and they were shocked. The fact that Belgians have grown so complacent about the hopeless inefficiency of their justice system is not a recommendation.

These are the facts. There is still no date for the Dutroux trial. It was planned for this year but I was told that it now wouldn't be before 2003. The figure for missing children was obtained from Child Focus and the Belgian police. There are no standardised figures in Europe relating to child disappearances allowing one to compare country with country so it impossible to say whether the problem is more severe in Belgium than in other countries. What difference does it make that many of the children are immigrant and are the prey of international traffickers. They are still children and they still "disappear". I spent a long time trying to get some sense out of the Belgians about their missing children numbers. This was the information they gave me.
Olenka Frenkiel

Q Olenka, I am filled with wonder and awe that having come so far in your investigations and run up against the brick wall of self-defence the ruling class has put in your path - you have not yourself gone quite mad. I must also say that having been molested myself as I child, I can only now assume I was immensely shrewd, at the age of 9, in deciding that any attempt on my part to tell anyone about the events would only lead to more suffering for me because, as I told myself, 'no one will believe you, they'll call you a liar and hurt you." What a clever kid. Now - here we are - all lining up to be told what to do by Brussels!!! I'm overwhelmed at the crass stupidity of us all! Congratulations on your splendid work -you will of course give up someday - as we all do - and for the usual reasons - no one gives a damn! Bravo!
Viv, England

A Thank you. You're right I was tempted many times to "give-up". It is nice to know there's someone out there who appreciates it. That is what keeps us going. Many people just don't want to know.
Olenka Frenkiel

I get the strong impression that it's only sensationalism and very little investigation

Bart Luyckx
Q I find it bewildering that a BBC reporter has so much belief in what people claim to know (and even uses fiction to support it) instead of checking the facts. Your programme contains only the most sensational (largely unsubstantiated) stories and very little facts. You even fail to mention that Nihoul will be up for trial shortly, together with Dutroux and several others. I get the strong impression that it's only sensationalism and very little investigation. I thought I would learn something new; instead I get disappointed over the new BBC standards for investigative journalism. Nice job!
Bart Luyckx, Belgium

A I'm sorry you felt that way Bart. As I understand it there is no decision yet as to whether Nihoul will come to trial. So far it is only a recommendation by the Procureur du Roi Bourlet that Nihoul should be taken to court. Those among the judiciary who disagree with Bourlet - among whom I have some informed sources - claim that he will not come to court for the Dutroux affair. We will see. You may have your views about this case but you cannot deny there are many unanswered questions, which show Belgium in rather a poor light. And how do you explain the campaign against Regina Louf on RTBF? They showed her parents as victims of a "mythomane" when they knew her parents and her abuser had already confessed to the police that she had been abused regularly as a child. The programme makers have admitted this to me though they have never admitted this to their own audience or attempted to rectify the false impression they presented. Is this a preferable form of journalism to the one you saw on Sunday night?
Olenka Frenkiel

It is all too common for those in high places to get away with activities like this. The fact that the citizens of Belgium have given up is testimony enough of the corruption of the state.
Adam McIntosh, USA

Well-done Olenka and the BBC for such a frank but disturbing documentary. I hope now something will be done about this. I am convinced it goes on the world over but people's reluctance to face the truth allows it to go on with impunity.
Mark, UK

Brilliant piece of reporting but we have to have answers and if the corruption is at the top of a country it must be routed out or it will continue lies breed lies and for deceit there has to be trust please don't give up the fight.
Alan Mikkelson, England

Broken Hearted. Why do we see the country at the centre of European power and "justice" and they cannot smash these filthy paedophile rings. The EU has to hammer this scourge over all of Europe.
Alan Hughes, Scotland

I want to express my deep sympathy to the parents of the murdered children, and hope they know that some of their fellow countrymen haven't turned their back on them

Marianne De Leye
Congratulations with the programme on the Belgian X-files. Personally I am convinced of the existence of networks. What remains a mystery to me is why the Belgian public, who marched with hundred thousands in protest only a few years ago, can now be so forgetful and indifferent. I want to express my deep sympathy to the parents of the murdered children, and hope they know that some of their fellow countrymen haven't turned their back on them.
Marianne De Leye, Belgium

A recent survey conducted showed Belgium to be second only to Italy that in Antwerp exists a red light district holding many women from Eastern Europe "prisoner". I say prisoner, because many of them do not speak Dutch or French and have no viable means to live other than prostitution. The hell these women go through are just so brutal. I witnessed several times while buying groceries near my flat, women being beaten by their pimps. I am thankful that I "believe" in my country's system of justice. I can only pray and cry for those children that suffered....
Lars, Sweden

I hope there will one day be a sequel to this programme, which will contribute to closure of the file. Thanks and well done.
Adam Watson Brown, Belgium

I have cried as if my mother had told me an ancient secret she never dared to tell me before

Nic de Potter
Congratulations Olenika!!! This was a great broadcast. I have cried as if my mother had told me an ancient secret she never dared to tell me before. Unfortunately the networkers' names were not mentioned because of the secrecy of the 'on-going' investigation. Well done to the whole team. Please continue.
Nic de Potter

Q Your online report states that Regina Louf was one of 11 people to come forward to talk of their harrowing experiences - what do we know of the other ten testimonies? Is there not a great deal more evidence that can be compiled to prosecute this case?
Sally Jeffrey, UK

A Regina Louf agreed to go public after the police team investigating her claims was dismissed. This has made it easier for independent people, like journalists to investigate her claims and cross-examine her to assess her testimony.

The other "X's" have remained anonymous and Marie-Jeanne Van Heeswyck the journalist who co-wrote the book the "X Files" has talked to some of them and seen their testimonies. They vary. Some are more lurid and macabre, others less so. Some name the same people cited by Regina Louf. But one of them, not Regina, very controversially names Belgium's king. This is obviously very shocking to the Belgians and many have reacted by recoiling from all the X witnesses in blanket disbelief.

Because the investigation was stopped before it got very far, their stories have not been exhaustively checked so it is impossible to say whether they are truthful or correct. What most of them have in common though is the "sex parties". They describe being taken as children to houses, or flats where they were expected to perform sexual acts for adult clients.

As any professional dealing with victims of abuse will tell you, such people can be very damaged and it may be difficult in some cases to know whether what they describe is the truth or a "false memory syndrome". Each has to be assessed individually. Facts have been found to corroborate Regina Louf's story. Whether that would also have been true for the other X's is impossible to say as the investigation was stopped before they could be verified. If you can read French I recommend the book the X Files.
Olenka Frenkiel

Would British policemen or magistrates get away without any sanctions after such sloppy investigations

Nora Prior
Q Could a scandal like this happen in England or are there safeguards incorporated into the law governing police and justice administration to avoid such cover-ups? Would British policemen or magistrates get away without any sanctions after such sloppy investigations?
Nora Prior, Belgium

It's a question I kept asking myself over and over again as I was working on this. I think we know that in Britain people have got away with organised sexual abuse but usually in institutions, children's homes, schools or churches. The perpetrators have been protected by their organisations. Some of these rings have come out but I'm sure some have gone unexposed.

The first I remember was in 1979/80 the Kincora children's home in Northern Ireland which involved protestant clergy. Then there were the Welsh children's homes, the boarding schools and in Ireland the Catholic church.

There is obviously abuse in families. Newsnight did an incredible film about Liverpool where a family of girls had tried to report the abuse in their estate for years and had been ignored. This was a paedophile ring which neither the social services nor the police would investigate.

The Fred West case too was interesting. It was alleged that many people came to that house and used the children there. But how many others were prosecuted apart from Rose and Fred? There are those in Britain who claim that it could and does happen here.

But I find it hard to believe that once the allegations and the evidence reached the criminal justice system, the chain of events that has unfolded in Belgium could happen here in Britain. I also don't believe a defendant like Dutroux could stay in jail without trial for this long without people asking questions.

The Sarah Payne killer came to trial within 18 months of the crime. And I find it hard to imagine that heads would not roll if police here failed to collect forensic evidence, to send the hairs for analysis, or to test the DNA samples taken from the victims.

For all our faults here and I have reported them for many years, I came to admire the relative simplicity of the British adversarial system as opposed to the European "inquisitorial" system which few people even in Belgium seem to understand and which seems to hold no-one accountable for failure.
Olenka Frenkiel

I wish you all the luck in the world to find out about the truth

Peter De Schouwer
Q Dear BBC, I am happily surprised to see that you are investigating one of so many scandals in this corrupt country. I wish you all the luck in the world to find out about the truth.
Peter De Schouwer, Belgium

AThank you for your interest. This story is well known in Belgium, albeit highly controversial. It is strange how little of it has been told here in Britain.
Olenka Frenkiel

Send us your comments:

Name:


Your E-mail address:


Country:


Comments:


Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.

Back to top

Belgium's X Files

Paedophile scandal

FORUM
Links to more Correspondent Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Correspondent Europe stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes