Dutroux victims return to dungeon

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The Independent Online

Two victims have showed the judge and jurors trying Marc Dutroux the dungeon - custom-built for holding and abusing young girls - where they were raped and held prisoner nearly a decade ago.

Two victims have showed the judge and jurors trying Marc Dutroux the dungeon - custom-built for holding and abusing young girls - where they were raped and held prisoner nearly a decade ago.

Under police guard, Laetitia Delhez, 22, and Sabine Dardenne, 20, Dutroux, two of his co-defendants, the judge, jury, families and lawyers visited Dutroux's house yesterday.

The visit was meant to show the 12 jurors the conditions under which the girls were held in the summers of 1995-96. It was too much for some, including Ms Delhez's mother, who was taken away on a stretcher.

Ms Delhez said: "I just went to see one more time where I was held." She emerged from the small house with Ms Dardenne, both looking distraught. Mr Dutroux's lawyer, Ronny Baudewijn, said later: "It was not a good day for my client."

The house is the focal point for Dutroux's alleged crimes which include the abduction and rape of six young girls and the killing of at least four.

Run down and covered with graffiti, the three-level brick home in a working-class area of the central Belgian town of Marcinelle has been boarded up since Dutroux's arrest in 1996. Two buses took 110 people - the judge, jurors, defendants, lawyers, witnesses and court officials - from the courthouse in Arlon 110 miles away.

Wearing bulletproof vests, Dutroux and his two co-defendants were taken to Marcinelle in armoured cars. A fourth defendant, Michel Nihoul, was unfit to travel.

In two emotional days, Ms Delhez and Ms Dardenne testified last week about the time they spent in Dutroux's basement and the alleged abuses they suffered. The two were rescued in August 1996 shortly after Dutroux - a convicted paedophile who was out on parole at the time - was arrested. Five victims - four girls and an associate of Dutroux - were found dead on Dutroux properties.

Jean Lambrecks, whose daughter Eefje, was kidnapped before her body was found on another Dutroux property, said: "For me that horror house can be torn down to the ground."

During the first week of the trial, Dutroux admitted raping Ms Delhez, then 14, and Ms Dardenne, then 12. He described in detail how he built and wired his infamous cell that is 11ft long, 3ft wife and 5ft high. He claimed he built the dungeon on the orders of a child-sex network operating in Belgium.

Dutroux has admitted kidnapping and abusing the six girls, but claims he did not kill them. He also claims he was working for a criminal network recruiting prostitutes across Europe.

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