Accused rapist says he was protective

March 3, 2004 at 12:18 PM

ARLON, Belgium, March 3 (UPI) -- A Belgian electrician accused of kidnapping, raping and killing young girls testified Wednesday he was trying to protect them, ITV News reported.

Marc Dutroux, 47, a convicted pedophile, began the third day of his trial in the town of Arlon against charges of kidnapping, imprisoning and repeatedly raping six girls in the 1990s, killing four of them.

Dutroux denied any involvement in the kidnapping and death of two eight-year-olds, the first two girls to be abducted in July 1995. He testified he kept them in a under his home dungeon to protect them from a child sex ring. Coroners determined the children starved to death.

Prosecutors also alleged two teenaged victims were drugged, raped, then buried alive after being raped repeatedly.

Dutroux told the jury all the crimes of which he was accused were carried out by a criminal gang based in the city of Charleroi, which had enjoyed "police and political protection."

Also on trial are his estranged wife Michelle Martin, Michel Lelievre, a drifter, and Michel Nihoul, a businessman and police informant.

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