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    25 years on: tribute to Dutroux victims An and Eefje

    The poster circulated following the disappearance of the two girls.

    Today in Hasselt family and friends of two of the victims of serial killer Marc Dutroux will hold a small ceremony to mark the 25th anniversary of the last time the girls were seen alive in public.

    An Marchal (17) and her friend Eefje Lambrecks (19) were on holiday in Westende at the Belgian coast with friends in August 1995. On 22 August they decided to travel up the coast to Ostend to attend a show by the hypnotist Rasti Rostelli.

    On leaving the show they caught the last tram, which only took them to the terminus at Ostend, so they set out to hitch-hike back to Westende, a distance of 13.5km by road.

    They never arrived.

    This week, the father of Eefje, Jean Lambrecks, published a book detailing the failures of the investigation into the disappearance of the two girls. One fact is striking.

    Because of the way the police forces were splintered in Belgium prior to the reforms on the turn of the century, no link was made between the disappearance of two girls in Ostend, and the disappearance of two other girls – eight-year-olds in this case – at Grace-Hollogne near Liege in June of 1995.

    Dutroux was being investigated for various offences, and police had taken home videos from him, one of which showed how he had constructed a cell in his basement, the door hidden by a shelving unit to make it virtually invisible.

    But nobody had yet viewed the videos because no video player was available. If they had, the place where An and Eefje, as well as Julie and Mélissa, were kept imprisoned.

    The bodies of Julie and Mélissa were found following the release of two other kidnap victims in August 1996, and those of An and Eefje in September.

    Although Dutroux pointed out the site of the remains of both pairs of girls, neither he nor his accomplices ever gave investigators any information on how the girls had died or how they had suffered while in his grasp.

    Today’s ceremony in Hasselt will take place in the Stadspark by the cultural centre on the Kunstlaan, in the presence of the families. The ceremony will also be broadcast live on local TV station TVLimburg from 10.00.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times