Dutroux victim gives evidence

Sabine Dardenne was 12 when she was abducted and held for 80 days in a purpose-built dungeon.

Miss Dardenne, who is now 20, fought back tears before she confronted Marc Dutroux, asking him why he did not kill her.

In a key moment of the trial that has enthralled Belgium for the last seven weeks, Miss Dardenne, said: “I would like to know from him – who complained about my bad character – why he did not liquidate me.”

Staring at her from behind the dock’s bulletproof glass, Dutroux said he never intended to kill her.

“It was never an issue,” he said. “I recognise having abused her and I take responsibility.”

Miss Dardenne did not accept his answer and later rejected an apology offered by his ex-wife, Michelle Martin, also standing trial.

Dutroux, Martin and two other suspects face charges of kidnapping and raping six girls and murdering four of them – two of whom were aged just eight.

The 47-year-old key suspect has admitted rape and kidnapping but has denied murder, blaming other suspects.

Dutroux has also fuelled a widely-held belief that he worked for a vast yet mysterious paedophile ring, describing himself as a reluctant collaborator.

The case provoked public outrage at the crimes and at police and judiciary bungling of the search for the girls.

Sitting in court behind the small metal trunk in which Dutroux brought her to his house after the kidnap, Miss Dardenne said he made her believe her parents had abandoned her after refusing to pay a ransom.

Her graphic account of the abuse prompted the parents of other victims to fall ill during her evidence. Both were taken to hospital for treatment.

As Dutroux watched from the dock, she said he posed as her protector, telling her he was keeping her from his boss who wanted to kill her.

She said she even thanked him when stepping out of the cell into the arms of a police officer.

“I was pretty crazy to believe him,” she said with a nervous laugh. “He had us on that one.”

Scores of witnesses have testified at the trial but Monday was the first time a survivor has come to speak.

Miss Dardenne and Laetitia Delhez, with whom she shared her cell, were rescued by police in August 1996 following the arrest of Dutroux, already a convicted child rapist. Miss Delhez testifies on Tuesday.

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