Belgium’s most notorious paedophile, Marc Dutroux, was today found guilty of murder, rape and abduction as his long-running trial came to a close.

After three days of deliberations, the 12-member jury convicted the 47-year-old Marc Dutroux of leading a gang that kidnapped six girls and young women between 1995 and 1996, leading to the deaths of four of them.

Dutroux was found guilty of the murder of two – Eefje Lam Brecks, 19, and An Marchal, 17 – who were kidnapped in Flanders and killed in 1996. They were buried alive and their corpses unearthed along with the body of Dutroux’s associate, Bernard Weinstein, who he was also found guilty of murdering.

The jury found Dutroux guilty of involvement in the kidnapping of two 8-year-olds – the first to disappear – but his ex-wife, Michelle Martin, was convicted of their deaths.

Julie Lejeune and Melissa Russo, both eight, were abducted as they played near their homes on the outskirts of Liege, and starved to death in a cell while Dutroux was serving a prison sentence for car theft. Martin testified she was too afraid to go down to their terraced house’s basement to feed them.

Michel Lelievre, a co-defendant, was convicted of complicity in the kidnappings but Michel Nihoul, a Brussels businessman Dutroux claimed was the gang’s mastermind, was acquitted on charges of being an accomplice to the kidnappings. He was however found guilty of being part of a being part of a gang that smuggled drugs and people into Belgium.

Dutroux admitted raping two other girls, Sabine Dardenne and Laetitia Delhez, 12 and 14 when he abducted them in 1996, and who both gave testimony.

The verdicts mark the end of a trial that has enthralled Belgians for more than three months with lurid details of a dungeon, suspected police complicity, and suggested links to a Satanic cult.

Relatives leaving the courtroom expressed satisfaction that at least some guilty verdicts were returned against all four.

“This has confirmed what I thought. They worked together,” said Louisa Lejeune, mother of eight-year-old Julie. “The recognition of this is a relief.”

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