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Police Arrest Tenth Suspect in Child Pornography Ring

August 27, 1996 GMT

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ Police arrested a 10th suspect in a child pornography ring blamed for the disappearances and deaths of young girls, and Belgium’s justice minister has begun to investigate mistakes in monitoring the key suspect.

Pierre Rochow, the son of a scrap yard owner, was arrested Monday for the theft of cars _ the same charge that landed main suspect Marc Dutroux into preventive custody in March.

Belgians were shocked to learn that Dutroux, a 38-year-old convicted pedophile, was taken into police custody and released while he was holding two 8-year-old girls in a dungeon. The two girls subsequently died.

Dutroux was arrested Aug. 15 after two others girls, aged 12 and 14, were found alive but sexually abused in a cellar in one of the seven houses he owns near Charleroi, 40 miles south of here.

Two days later, Dutroux, who has served time for raping young girls, led police to the bodies of the 8-year-olds buried in a garden.

Police say he has admitted to kidnapping two other teenagers, who remain missing. Investigators believe the missing teenagers have been sold into prostitution abroad.

Belgian authorities have enlisted the help of John Bennett, who investigated the murders of 10 women and girls by Fred and Rosemary West in Britain, to help search Dutroux’s properties.

Using sonar, Bennett scanned the grounds of the Wests’ house in Gloucester, England to find buried bodies and objects to solve a two-decade string of murders which began in 1973.

Justice Minister Stefaan De Clerck agreed to investigate mistakes by police and other officials in the case, but denied a charge by the chief investigator that rival police units withheld from each other valuable tips and other data about missing children and Dutroux.

Dutroux was sentenced to 13 years in 1987 for raping under-age girls. He was released in 1993 for good behavior.

Dutroux has admitted offering accomplices $1,500 to kidnap children for him.

Others arrested include Dutroux’ wife, Michele Martin, and a Charleroi police officer, Georges Zicot. Police have seized hundreds of video tapes from Dutroux’ house, some showing Dutroux abusing young girls.