Detectives in the Belgian city of Liège have found the bodies of two schoolgirls missing for the last 18 days. Natalie Mahy, 10, and seven year old Stacy Lemmens were found a few hundred metres from where they disappeared.
The reaction in the country is one of disbelief: “It is disgusting to kill children like that,” said one woman. “They were only seven and ten. You can’t take your eyes off your kids these days.” The girls, who were step-sisters, disappeared while their parents were enjoying an evening at a bar in the St Léonard area of Liège. Stacy’s great-aunt says the family is in shock: “I’ve never been on television before but I am doing it for Stacy. I can only hope that the poor little soul didn’t suffer too much,” she said.
The girls’ disappearance and the discovery of their bodies has revived horrific memories in Belgium of the killings by paedophile Marc Dutroux ten years ago. Since the girls went missing, the Belgian authorities have used all the resources at their disposal to find them. They are anxious to avoid a repetition of mistakes made during the Dutroux inquiry.
Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said: “All of us react with sorrow, disgust and even powerlessness to this news. It is impossible to work out what drives some people.” Abdullah Ait Oud has been charged with the girls’ abduction. It is understood he was a customer in the bar the night they disappeared.
Post-mortem examination results are due today. However, a police spokesperson has been quoted as saying it seems probable that they died on the night of their disappearance.