The ex-wife of Belgian paedophile Marc Dutroux has knocked down his denials over the abductions and murders of several girls as she took the stand for the first time in her trial.
But a remorseful Michelle Martin confessed on Wednesday to failing to feed two eight-year-old girls held captive by Dutroux who, police say, starved to death.
She is standing trial along with her husband and two alleged accomplices.
Martin, who was convicted in 1989 of helping Dutroux to kidnap girls for rape, denies charges of abduction and complicity in the death of four girls. She faces 10 years to life in jail if found guilty in the Arlon trial.
She said the convicted paedophile was responsible for the abductions of the two eight-year-olds in June 1995, with the help of a murdered accomplice, Bernard Weinstein. Dutroux had denied the crimes.
The brutally abused bodies of Julie Lejeune and Melissa Russo were unearthed from a Dutroux property over a year later.
“I first heard of their disappearance on the radio. He (Dutroux) told me, ‘It was Bernard and me’,” said Martin. Earlier, Dutroux tried to pin the blame on his wife and accomplices.
Martin (L), with Marc Dutroux, a
convicted child rapist
She also accused Dutroux of murdering two young women whom he admits to kidnapping, An Marchal, 17, and Eefje Lambrecks, 19. Their bodies were found shortly after the discovery of the corpses of Julie and Melissa.
“I have two others,” Martin quoted Dutroux as telling her. Then, a short time later, he told her: “Bernard and me, we had to get rid of them because it was madness, we couldn’t get out of it.”
During her testimony she did not accuse Michel Nihoul, a convicted fraudster who Dutroux claimed was the link to a broader paedophile gang.
She added that she “never saw Julie, Melissa, An or Eefje”.
The girls are believed to have been held captive in a secret cellar built by Dutroux at his house near the southern town of Charleroi.
Two other girls, Sabine Dardenne, then aged 12 and Laetitia Delhez, 14, were rescued from the dungeon in August 1996. Dutroux admitted abducting them, but claimed he was acting on Nihoul’s orders.
Martin admitted she did not follow her ex-husband's orders to feed Julie and Melissa while her husband was imprisoned for car theft from December 1995 to March 1996.
“I couldn’t stand this reality. I didn’t imagine that little girls were inside (the house). For me, it was like wild animals would come to attack me,” she said.
Martin was arrested with Dutroux in February 1986 for the abduction and rape of five girls. The pair, still in detention, married in 1988. She was convicted and jailed in 1989 for five years and served two.