Dutroux buried two teenage girls alive after raping them, court hears

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The Independent Online

Two teenage victims of Marc Dutroux were buried alive after being raped and held prisoner, prosecutors made clear for the first time yesterday as the full scale of Belgium's child-sex and murder trial began to emerge.

Reading from a lengthy statement, Michel Bourlet, the prosecutor, described how six girls were kidnapped, abused and incarcerated - some in a makeshift underground cell at Dutroux's home - and how four of them were killed.

An Marchal, 17, and Eefje Lambrecks, 19, were drugged and wrapped in plastic before being dumped in a backyard grave. According to autopsies "the victims were not dead when they were buried," M. Bourlet told the court.

Two eight-year-olds, Julie Lejeune and Melissa Russo, starved to death while imprisoned in Dutroux's cellar as he served a sentence for another offence, the prosecution said.

Dutroux, who is expected to enter his formal plea today, has admitted abduction and rape but denied murdering any of the girls. Also on trial are: Michelle Martin, his estranged wife; Michel Lelièvre, a drifter and drug addict; and Michel Nihoul, a businessman and police informant.

"They knew what they were doing," M. Bourlet told the court. "Marc Dutroux sought to have sex with the young girls without their consent."

Seated behind bullet-proof glass, Dutroux, 47, showed no emotion as the charges were read although he wrote notes on his copy of the indictment and conferred by telephone with one of his lawyers.

Defence lawyers are questioning why the prosecution has ignored evidence such as hundreds of hair strands found at the main crime scene that did not match those of Dutroux or the other suspects.

On Sunday, Dutroux claimed that he was only a part of a criminal network, a theme on which he is expected to elaborate.

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