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2 Belgian Ministers Quit After Brief Escape of Suspect

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Belgium’s interior and justice ministers resigned after the brief escape Thursday of a key suspect in a deadly child-sex ring whose activities stunned the nation in 1996.

Interior Minister Johan Vande Lanotte and Justice Minister Stefaan de Clerck stepped down to take responsibility for the escape, which caused great embarrassment to a government already accused of inept law enforcement.

Their resignations were announced by Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene in an appearance before Parliament, where he vowed to proceed with law enforcement reforms.

Marc Dutroux was recaptured four hours after he grabbed a police officer’s gun and fled a courthouse about 125 miles southeast of Brussels. Dutroux was at the courthouse to examine documents for his trial on child-abduction and abuse charges.

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A car he hijacked got stuck in mud about eight miles away, police said.

Questions were raised immediately over why Dutroux was taken to the courthouse Thursday amid light security and why the officer’s gun was unloaded.

Dutroux is accused of abducting six girls and killing four of them in a case that shocked Belgium after his arrest in August 1996.


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