Marc Dutroux, convicted in 1996 of five cases of murder, including those of two teenage girls and two young children, has a new hobby, according to reports.
Dutroux was sentenced to life in 2004, but had been in prison awaiting trial since 1996 in connection with the murders of four girls and one of his own confederates, as well as the kidnapping and rape of two other girls, who were ultimately rescued at the time of his arrest.
Now, according to reports, Dutroux has a new hobby, according to reports from his lawyer Bruno Dayez: investigating what are known as cold cases – crimes from the past that remain unsolved today.
Those include, according to Dayez, some of the activities of the armed gang known as the Brabant Killers (or the Gang of Nivelles locally) who carried out armed robberies in the province of Brabant Wallon in the 1980s in which 22 people were injured and 28 killed. The level of casualties was never seen as commensurate with supermarket robberies, and the case became a honeypot for conspiracy theorists (as Dutroux’s own case was itself likely to do).
There has never been the slightest link suggested between the Gang and Dutroux’s own crimes, but Dayez insists that investigators recently visited Dutroux in his cell to question him about the case.
Police, meanwhile, have as expected declined to comment on the suggestion, which seems on the face of it to be highly unlikely. A gang as cold-blooded, most of whose members seem to have evaded justice so far, would hardly be likely to let a real witness as unhinged as Dutroux live peacefully in prison for the past 26 years to be interviewed at intervals by police.
Meanwhile, according to Dayez, the investigators left empty-handed. Dutroux, the lawyer said, was too confused and his story did not make sense. A description which would be understandable given the passage of time, but which also makes sense in light of the mental state of the prisoner, as well as his past history of madness.
Meanwhile, anyone who has arrived in Belgium in the last 26 years, as well as many who have been here longer still, will be asking themselves how it is that a scrap merchant with distinctive body odour and several charges of rape hanging over his head has managed to hold this country in thrall with his every move since the 1980s. This latest chapter, moreover, is unlikely to be the last.