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Profile: Marc Dutroux

BBC | 1st March 2004

Marc Dutroux, who stands accused of child killings in Belgium, has a criminal record going back 25 years.

In 1979, Mr Dutroux received the first of a series of convictions for theft, violent muggings, drug-dealing and trading in stolen cars.

Sexual crimes came later - in 1986, Mr Dutroux and his then-wife Michelle Martin were arrested for the abductions and rape of five girls, for which they were both imprisoned.

His own mother wrote to the prison director to warn about her son.

She complained that Mr Dutroux was using supervised visits to his grandmother's house to write up an inventory of the elderly woman's possessions, leaving her anxious and distressed.

What I do not know, and what all the people who know him fear, it's what he has in mind for the future

"I have known for a long time and with good cause my eldest's temperament," she wrote.

"What I do not know, and what all the people who know him fear, it's what he has in mind for the future."

According to the French newspaper Liberation, the letters went unanswered.

Unhappy family

Mr Dutroux was born on 6 November 1956 in Brussels, the eldest of five children.

His parents, Victor and Jeanine, were teachers who, he says, frequently beat him.

Certainly, his relationship with his parents was strained, and soon after they separated in 1971, he left home.

The age of the victims did not seem to arouse in him any given effect or to play a particular role, beyond allowing him to kidnap them, to manipulate them, to confine them

Psychiatric report 

He became a drifter, and according to press reports, a homosexual prostitute.

By the time he was 20, Mr Dutroux was married to his first wife.

They had two sons, now in their early 20s, but she says he beat her and had affairs, and they separated in the early 1980s.

One of his mistresses was Ms Martin, who went on to become his second wife and who is standing trial alongside Mr Dutroux and two other alleged accomplices, on lesser charges.

The couple are now separated.

Wealth

Crimes ranging from violent mugging to drug-dealing turned into a lucrative activity said to have helped him amass at least seven houses, according to the Associated Press.

He was sentenced to 13 years in 1989, but was released on parole in after just three years in 1992, under a government scheme that was supposed to keep a close eye on sexual offenders in the community.

A panel of psychiatrists who analysed him after his arrest in 1996 found that Mr Dutroux did not fit the classic profile of a paedophile, according to the Associated Press.

"The age of the victims did not seem to arouse in him any given effect or to play a particular role, beyond allowing him to kidnap them, to manipulate them, to confine them," they said.

'Dangerous behaviour'

There were, however, warnings of his continued potentially dangerous behaviour.

It was some time soon after his release from prison, the former electrician, now receiving state benefits, started to build his basement "dungeon".

Later he would admit to kidnapping six girls between 1995 and 1996.

Only two of his victims, 12-year-old Sabine Dardenne and 14-year-old Laetitia Delhez, were found alive.
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