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Belgian court keeps pedophile killer in prison

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BRUSSELS (AP) — Pedophile killer Marc Dutroux on Monday was denied conditional release from jail, which would have allowed him to walk the streets with an electronic ankle bracelet, the latest turn in a case that long has transfixed and horrified Belgium.

Dutroux is serving a life sentence for kidnapping, torturing and abusing six girls in 1995 and 1996. He also was found to have murdered two of the girls and let two others starve to death in a dungeon. Dutroux, who has been in prison for 16 years, tried to convince a court that he would be no risk to the public if he was released with electronic monitoring.

But the court said in a statement that the 56-year-old Dutroux "could not present a concrete plan of reclassification and he knows that there is at this time no chance of social reintegration."

Prison officials, prosecutors and even Dutroux's mother had opposed his release, as did victims' relatives. The ruling "is exactly as I expected," said Jean Lambrecks, whose 19-year-old daughter, Eefje, was killed by Dutroux.

But despite the near-certainty that he would have to stay in jail, the court decision dominated newscasts in Belgium, showing how Dutroux remains one of the nation's most reviled criminals. It also came months after a controversial decision that give early conditional release to Dutroux's former wife, Michelle Martin — who had let two girls starve to death in a cellar while her husband was jailed for theft. She now lives in a convent.

Dutroux's mother, Jeannine, said in a rare interview published early Monday that her son should not be freed because she was "sure that he would start again."

"Marc is not ready to be freed because he still wants to blame others for his acts," she told Le Soir newspaper.

The Dutroux case horrified Belgium and led to widespread changes in the country's police procedures. Police had visited the Dutrouxs' home twice in the mid-1990s and didn't find the kidnapped girls, although they heard voices, and ignored a letter from Dutroux's mother that expressed concern her son was abusing young girls.

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