Marc Dutroux, whose crimes horrified Belgium in the 1990s,
is escorted by police officers as he arrives at the Palace
of Justice in Brussels to request his release on parole on
the condition that he wears a house arrest bracelet.
Belgium's most notorious killer has launched a bid for
early release, despite little chance of getting parole.
Marc Dutroux, who was convicted of the kidnapping and rape of
six girls and the murder of four of them in the 1990s, put
his case to judges in a closed-door hearing in Brussels.
The case touches a nerve in Belgium because of the horrific
nature of the murders, and the fact that Belgian police
visited one of Dutroux's houses while two victims, both 8
years old, were being held there without finding them. The
two subsequently starved to death in a makeshift dungeon.
Under Belgian law, criminals can be freed after serving a
third of their sentences, or after 15 years in the case of
those who have received life, a perpetual sentence in
However, thousands of protesters called for tougher rules on
convicts when Dutroux's ex-wife was granted conditional
freedom last year and moved to a convent. She had to request
parole several times before it was granted.
Before Monday's hearing, armed police placed razor wire
barriers along the side of the courtroom, an unusual security
measure in Belgium. Officials also erected a metal detector
across the centre of Belgium's main courthouse.
Dutroux, who was arrested in 1996, was sentenced to life in
2004. He served two extra years under a separate charge,
meaning he is free to request early release this year.
The court will discuss Dutroux's request with prison
officials, and issue its judgement during a public hearing on
Feb. 18, although it is not clear if Dutroux will attend.
"The decision of the tribunal will be delivered in a public
audience here," Luc Hennaert, court president told reporters
after the hearing.