This is the second part in our investigation of the sinister police mishaps surrounding the case of Marc Dutroux. Read part one here. In December 1995, Dutroux was arrested for stealing a car. While in custody, plans were made for the search of his house. Hearing about this proposed search, the “rival” police agency gatecrashed the investigation and took over the plans for the search.
Remember, this was the agency that already knew about Dutroux’s dungeon and that he was keeping two girls down there. Dutroux’s mother had filled the agency in.
So here it was finally taking action, getting involved directly after months of inexplicable hibernation. “Getting involved” and “intervening” are concepts not too far apart in the case of this investigative agency.
It had also been watching Dutroux’s house for months in a project called “Operation Othello”. Now the chief investigative officer demanded to conduct the search himself, saying in motivation that he had been watching Dutroux and “knew” him. Permission was duly granted and the chief inspected the house accompanied only by a locksmith.
If it weren’t for this locksmith, who was to give testimony much later, we would never have known what happened during this strange and fateful visit.
The men found the secret entrance to the basement and went down there. Down below, an unusual discovery: chains and vaginal cream. Suddenly came the clearly audible cries of two young girls. It was impossible to miss.
The police officer’s immediate and strange reaction was to hiss: “Silence,” after which the cries died down. The locksmith alerted the chief to the fact that they had just heard crying. The chief said: “Who’s doing the investigation here?”
Some videos were also found. The men departed the scene, leaving behind two girls — the ones that had been kidnapped in August 2005. The girls had been held captive in a cell that wouldn’t allow further width than open elbows and went only as high as one’s navel — for four months. One person was to comment afterwards that one wouldn’t even keep a dog in a cage such as this.
With Dutroux temporarily in custody, the girls stopped being fed. Dutroux’s ex-wife, Michelle Martin, merely dumped the food near the door, saying later she was afraid the children would attack her. The two were unable to reach the food and slowly starved to death.
Their parents were to be in those very cages months later. They noticed that one of the girls had managed to scribble a last word on the wall with her nails in the slow moments before death. One of the journalists covering the case said that one of the most moving moments he experienced was when he saw the parents hutched down together holding hands in that horrific cell, in tears.
The police officer viewed the videos from Dutroux’s dungeon. At the very least, that’s what he did.
Seeing as he had disregarded the cries of the girls and didn’t find the presence of chains and vaginal cream odd in the basement of a convicted paedophile, it was small wonder how he responded to what he came across in the videos. On the tapes: a recording of one of the parents’ plea on TV to find their missing daughter. Another video showed Dutroux building his dungeon.
Add to this the testimony of Dutroux’s mother, and you surely had enough to pin Dutroux.
But once again, we find “incompetence” descending to twisted depths. The videos were discarded by the officer as “unimportant”. Operation Othello, the stake-out of Dutroux’s house, got called off.
Dutroux was cleared of any suspicion. After a four-month sentence for the stolen vehicle at the beginning of 1996, he was back out. Now he was no longer being watched, free to continue where he had left off.
Soon there would be new girls in the dungeon.
We will conclude with this report in part three.