Dutroux survivor asks why she was not killed


One of the survivors of Belgian child rapist Mr Marc Dutroux's dungeon faced her tormentor for the first time in court today and asked why he did not kill her during nearly three months of captivity.

In a key moment of a trial that has enthralled Belgium for the last seven weeks, Sabine Dardenne, now 20, described her time in a humid makeshift cell in the basement of Dutroux's house where he kept her when he was not raping her.

"I would like to know from him - who complained about my bad character - why he did not liquidate me," she told the court in this southeast Belgian town in a steady voice.

Staring at her from behind the dock's bulletproof glass, Mr Dutroux said he never intended to kill her. "It was never an issue," he said. "I recognise having abused her and I take responsibility."

Ms Dardenne, one of two survivors of a series of child sex crimes that traumatised the country in 1996, did not accept his answer and later rejected an apology offered by his ex-wife, Ms Michelle Martin, also standing trial.

Mr Dutroux, Ms 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 case provoked a wave of public outrage at the crimes and at police and judiciary bungling of the search for the girls. Mr Dutroux (47) has admitted rape and kidnapping but has denied murder, blaming other suspects.