Wow. This one was news to me. You hear about these guys with cellar dungeons in the States… I thought Canada was supposed to be such a warm-and-fuzzy place?

Rapist on trial. Key witness faces abductor 8 years later

ALEXANDER RATZ

April 20, 2004

Montreal Gazette

Convicted child rapist Marc Dutroux told a victim rescued from his cellar dungeon after being locked up for 80 days that he bore full responsibility for her ordeal but that he never considered killing her.

Sabine Dardenne, now 20, a key witness at the rape and murder trial, came face to face with Dutroux for the first time since her kidnapping. Dutroux is standing trial for the kidnapping and sexual abuse of six girls, four of whom died.

“Why did you not kill me?” Dardenne asked at the end of her testimony.

Dutroux answered he never considered it. He did admit abusing her and said, “I bear the full responsibility for that.”

Dardenne says she saw only Dutroux during her kidnapping and lawyers say her testimony dispels theories that he was part of a pedophile network.

Dardenne was rescued along with another victim, Laetitia Delhez, from the secret cellar two days after Dutroux, his wife and a third defendant were arrested in August 1996. Delhez, now 22, was kidnapped just a week before being freed and will testify today.

Two 8-year-old victims – Julie Lejeune and Melissa Russo – are thought to have starved to death in Dutroux’s basement in 1996 while he was in jail for four months for a car theft and his wife neglected to feed the girls. Two others – Eefje Lambrecks, 19, and An Marchal, 17 – were also killed in 1996. Their bodies were unearthed from Dutroux’s yard.

Lawyers lauded Dardenne’s courage during the hour-long testimony.

“She was a bit timid at first. We have to thank court president Stephane Goux for questioning her like a good father would question his daughter,” said Dardenne’s lawyer Jean-Philippe Riviere. “I was happy to see she turned around in her chair to look Dutroux in the face and ask him for explanation.”

Delhez’s lawyer, Jan Fermon, said his client will be just as tough today. “Two girls who survived hell and live to tell the story shows great courage,” he said.

Pol Marchal, An’s father, was so shaken by Dardenne’s testimony that he had to be taken out on a stretcher and to hospital for observation. “He doesn’t feel right and we will do some tests,” said his wife, Betty.

The mother of Delhez was also taken out of the courtroom, overcome by emotion.

Dutroux, a convicted pedophile on parole at the time of the abductions in 1995 and 1996, has admitted kidnapping girls, but claims he was working for a criminal network recruiting prostitutes.

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