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 Thursday, 2 May, 2002, 13:33 GMT 14:33 UK
The parents - Gino and Carine Russo
Gino and Carine Russo - the parents of Melissa, one of Dutroux's victims
The case may have faded, but the agony goes on for the Russos
Melissa's parents Gino and Carine Russo have followed everything in this case. What perplexes them more than anything is the lack of hard evidence in the whole affair.

Dutroux recently told a journalist who tricked his way into the jail that there was a paedophile network which prosecutors had avoided investigating. That's his story.

But the Russos, who were allowed access to the prosecution evidence, find it alarming that it contains little more than Dutroux's version of events and his wife's highly suspect confessions.

This is key, because while he admits incarcerating Melissa - and Julie - in his home, he denies her kidnap, rape or murder.

The cellar
A cellar as dark as the paedophile practices
Dutroux even claims he returned from jail to find the girls alive, and that he tried to save them, but that Melissa died in his arms.

The Belgians don't care any more

They will be happy to see Dutroux go down and bury the affair forever. But that will not satisfy the Russos.

The cover up

Melissa and Julie disappeared in June 1995, but the police refused to hunt for the girls.

Although Dutroux was a known paedophile and a prime suspect police didn't search his house for 5 months and when they did, they failed to find the girls, despite the sound of children whispering in the cellar.

More than a year later he was arrested for the kidnap of another girl and showed police where Melissa and Julie were buried.

For the Russos the agony continues

The autopsy report reveals Melissa was raped repeatedly over a prolonged period leaving dreadful injuries to her vagina and lower abdomen.

Legal files
But what use are the legal files against the system?
But the Rossos found that there is no evidence of any kind as to whether it was perpetrated by Dutroux or anyone else.

Carine Russo points to a wall of files in her office "Where are the results of the swabs taken from Melissa's body for analysis? We know they were taken. It says so in the reports. But there are no results. I've asked the prosecutor and no-one seems to know".

The authorities' official line is maintained that Dutroux, the lone paedophile, kidnapped the girls for his personal use and kept them in the cage in his cellar. The Russos barely believe a word.

Someone else was involved

They ask how could the girls survive such conditions through four months whilst Bobby Sands, the Irish hunger striker, and a grown man, survived just over two in 1981.

Judge Langlois
Judge Langlois was inexperienced

Other evidence of reported sightings of Melissa, never followed up, has convinced them that someone else had access to the girls in the dungeon while Dutroux was in jail.

Why else, they ask, were the hairs which detectives gathered from the dungeon in Dutroux's cellar, never sent for DNA analysis?

Why did Judge Langlois, Connerotte's replacement, refuse to have them tested despite pressure from the investigators who believed that a DNA identification of those hairs might reveal the presence of another who had had contact with the abducted children?

There was no network so there was no need to look for evidence of one

The Prosecutor General of Liege, Anne Thilly
The Prosecutor General of Liege, Anne Thilly: "There was no need to get the hairs analysed as no-one else entered the cage. There was no network so there was no need to look for evidence of one. In any case, the hairs have all now been analysed - all 5000."

But sources central to the investigation confirm that to date the hairs have still not been analysed.

Anne Thilly adds "The bodies were too decomposed to test for DNA".

But the autopsy states quite clearly that the bodies were not decomposed. Samples were taken. It is just that no one seems to know what has happened to the results.

It was Anne Thilly who took the decision, which in the Russo's opinion ensured there could be no coherent investigation of the Dutroux affair.

Read more:

Belgium's X-Files:
An Olenka Frenkiel Investigation
Sunday 5th May 2002 on BBC Two at 1915 BST

Reporter: Olenka Frenkiel
Producer: Michael Simkin
Series Producer: Simon Finch
Editor: Fiona Murch

  The X Files
The shocking horror is revealed
  The X Files
The conditions of Melissa's incarceration
  The X Files
The judge is sacked
  The X Files
Police files shown to be fundamentally flawed by investigative journalists
Belgium's X Files

Paedophile scandal

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