The French-speaking daily La Dernière Heure has published an editorial to “explain” its position on the revelation of certain information on the whereabouts of released prisoner Michel Lelièvre, after serving 23 years in prison as an accomplice of serial killer Marc Dutroux.
Lelièvre was attacked at his new address in Anderlecht in Brussels soon after being released from prison on licence, and had to be rehoused at an undisclosed location.
The DH has come in for some criticism over the role it played in identifying Lelièvre’s whereabouts, but the paper denies any guilt. “In this case precisely, we want first of all to make clear that the DH never divulged the exact address of Mr Lelièvre,” the paper states in an editorial published today. What they did do, however, was state that he was to be released to an address in Brussels 1000, and more specifically, to a lodging house for the homeless in the commune. Both of these reports turned out to be mistaken.
What it did do was publish the thoughts of “the head of a police corps, representative of the state, regarding his protective mission.” The paper then revealed that the mayor of the commune in question had not been informed of Lelièvre’s presence on his territory.
“The numerous anxious messages we received from our readers following the publication of this information demonstrate the general interest in this information which was, besides, picked up by numerous other media.”
The editorial ends with an apology.
“However in the context of today and given recent events, it was not opportune to have divulged that information with such precision,” the paper admits. “That was probably an error. We underestimated the emotional impact on a part of the population. Our mission was and continues to be to inform, not to shock. We would like to offer our apologies if we have upset certain sensibilities. We never took part in any manhunt, nor in the feeding of sentiments of vengeance. Those we firmly condemn – yesterday, today and tomorrow.”