Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Excerpt: Der Spiegel Interviews Michel Nihoul 12

In the Network of Dossiers

(This is my translation of an interview with Mssr. Michel Nihoul by Der Spiegel, "Im Netz der Dossiers," dated October 15, 2001 from the original German. Honestly, my German sucks. So feel free to read the original interview in German if you prefer.)

More than five years after the arrest of the Belgian pedophile Marc Dutroux the investigations are finally taking place. An industry of revelers and conspiracy theorists flourishes. Their latest absurdity: Dutroux is covered by the royal house.

He does not have much to lose. No reputation, no future, no dignity. So Marc Dutroux takes his last liberty. He gets caught. He squats.

Like a little child.

He was arrested on August 13, 1996. Now Belgium's most infamous prisoner is in Arlon prison, in the extreme south-east corner of the country. An escape attempt in April 1998 was foiled by a random forester after four hours. 

Since then, Marc Dutroux squats in his cell, he plays giant puzzles and is silent.

He confessed that he sedated his crony Bernard Weinstein and then buried him alive.

Without an expression, he watched the police digging up the gagged corpses of two little girls out of his garden, the vagina of one of them dilated to nine centimeters.

Dutroux also admitted that he dragged four other girls off the street into his van and held them in a self-made dungeon for weeks. 

He raped them. 

He said that he wanted to live with them outside of society.

Only he knows whether he really worked for his own benefit, or whether behind him a protective network stood and possibly still stands. 

The process is still pending.

But Marc Dutroux is silent, he learns from his studies of mathematics and history and he does not say a word. Only when he is taken from his cell to the judge at Neufchâteau does he give of himself what no one wants to have, he empties his bladder and his intestines as his final act of resistance. 

The guards complain. It stinks in the Mercedes transporter of the judiciary, it stinks in the judge's office, it stinks everywhere, where Marc Dutroux sits. And now the stench blows even to the gates of the royal palace.

A book by two Luxembourg journalists was released by a large Parisian publishing house. Based on various dossiers and unproven testimonies, they claim that none other than the Belgian King Albert II was responsible for the slow progress of the Dutroux investigation. 

There were indications that the prince had participated in sex parties in the early 1980s. In addition to a prime minister, the head of the gendarmerie, a judge, there were also two minor boys, who later disappeared without a trace.

These are aberrant accusations. Even in a country like Belgium, where the citizens have not thought anything unthinkable about the state since the Dutroux affair. 

The Royal Court took legal action against the publishing house after the publication of the book: "These well-known claims have been legal, parliamentary and journalistic, and they have proved unfounded."

Jean Nicolas, the main author of the book, is one of those people who are convinced that the world's secret services are turning the wheels of the world. However, he does not let his appetites and good humor spoil him. 

He is seen in a protected brasserie on the Boulevard Saint-Germain, because trips to Belgium are currently not advisable: "I would immediately go to Brussels for interrogation."

Nicolas lives by sending messages of reality out from the real citizen's side, in the form of revelatory books. He is not an uncontroversial figure in Benelux journalism. 

But sometimes his methods are good. In 1998 he took on the related economies of the EU Commissioner Edith Cresson, and he helped force the Commission to resign.

King Albert II would be left with no choice but to step down in the autumn, Nicolas said: 

"A discussion of our allegations in Parliament would destroy the monarchy, nor can Belgium undertake a broad-based Dutroux process."

And he talks about the pre-AIDS period when Brussels doctors, lawyers, and officials appeared naked, as members of the pack. Nicolas quotes from an official investigation report, which also mentions a sex club named "Jonathan.”

"The specialty," he says, "was, according to the report, a rubber boat filled with jam, the top layer shimmering and being skimmed down, with politicians, high officials, journalists, and criminals alike and no one knew that there were video cameras behind it, first the Barbesitzer watched, then the Belgian secret service."

The "Pédophilie Dossier" also contains a lot of information on the childhood of Marc Dutroux. However, only three well-known witnesses were led before the royal commission. 

One of them appears in the book as "X3,” an elderly lady who had a good reputation in the child protection movement before she began to tell the Dutroux investigators that she participated in sadomasochistic orgies during her childhood and ate children seasoned in aspic.

The statements of X3 read as excerpts from the Marquis de Sade in Koksrausch: high-spirited hunts for children, Rottweilers, bestial killings in the presence of the Prime Minister and the Belgian Hochadel, including King Baudouin and his brother, then Prince Albert. The officials listened patiently. Then they closed the files.

Christine D., a divorced mother of three children, who attended a group sex dinner at the Waterloo Golf Club, stayed as a main contributor. A tape ran secretly because a neurologist collected incriminating evidence against his wife for his own divorce process, who also circulated at the golf club.

According to the tape chart, Christine D. accused a family judge, A., of bringing two children out of his care to the orgies. A coworker was killed by manipulating her car. Quote: "Prince Albert is involved in the story, he is up to date and wants everyone to keep up.” 

He said to A: “I cover you."

A little later, D. withdrew her statement completely. In front of the police, she explained that the prominent names had been put into her mouth by the neurologist: “I only said it to calm the upset doctor." And the allegedly murdered man unveiled himself in a hotel room.

So why the excitement? The dossier with Christine D.’s statements disappeared since 1981 into the drawers of the police. 

Still, it still haunts the imaginations of revelers and nourishes a small community of revelatory artists. The bookstores are full of books, the wildest, patchy theories, as they can only flourish in a state of affairs in which delicate files are pushed from desk to desk until they are forgotten.


"This is the Belgian disease," says one who is infected himself: Michel Nihoul.

"Everyone has a burdening dossier over everyone else to use as a means of pressure when appropriate." 

Nihoul is one of the loftiest figures of the Dutroux affair. The former fishmonger and bankrupt telephoned Dutroux a few times before a child abduction. To date, he claims that the phone calls only pertained to his broken car. 

A conversation was recorded by the police: "When Lelièvre (the helper of Dutroux) takes me in, I will get him."

Nihoul was arrested as a presumed accomplice shortly after Dutroux, but could only be convicted for fraud and signing fakes. Today he lives in the Jette district of Brussels, in a high-rise block with an integrated police station.

Michel Nihoul waits at the end of the hallway, leaning on a stick with a silver knob, and he has the cold eyes of a fish. With the gesture of a Grandseigneur, he invites us into the two-room apartment without bath, he sets the handkerchief on his suit and he begins to talk with timbre and with well-meaning words about his innocence. 

Faces of pedophiles. They look like this. Mssr. Michel Nihoul, Dutroux Affair accomplice.

"Some may have sex with fifteen-year-olds, some with twelve-year-olds, some with three-year-olds, I do not, I've never done anything with children, I love children."

The man looks unhealthy, pale and puffy.

He emanates the smell of sweet perfume. On the sofa is his life companion Marleen, a not unsympathetic, heavily handicapped blonde with a conspicuous chest, who met Nihoul at an orgy. The two have been together for so long that their sentences hook into each others like the parts of a zipper.

There is no network, say the two. 

Dutroux captured the girls only "pour sa propre consommation,” "for personal consumption.” 

A professional ring would have delivered the girls long ago to the customer. 

He himself is a born trader, says Nihoul.

It is clear from the investigations that Dutroux was advised by him on how to get into the girl trade. Nihoul advised him to organize sadomasochistic parties. That brings more. 

"Of course I thought he was talking about adults," says Nihoul. "Nobody believes him," Marleen says from the sofa and shakes her head sadly.

"Dutroux offered me Eastern Europeans, and he could have had other plans with me, but he was arrested before," says Nihoul. He breathes heavily while talking and he sweats perfume.

Then he tells us of earlier. How he and Marleen organized group parties, "but with style!" Involving influential politicians and officials. In the club "Le Dolo" or in the rental Faulx-Les-Tombes near Namur. 

Of these amusements there should be photos and recordings. Nihoul likes to flirt with his audience. One of his first sentences was: "I have the government in hand."

Nihoul is a merchant. He traffics everything that comes into his fingers. With fish, with pills, with women and, more recently, with stories. An interview costs 1000 Marks: "Put another 20,000 on it and I'll deliver you an acting minister, who is involved in a murder." 

Supposedly everything is provable: "I know the murderer and let him call the Minister. You listen, okay?"

Then Nihoul asks to switch off the recording device and he lowers his voice. There is a special offer. For a six-digit sum. 

"For then I would have to leave Belgium, I give you a photo on which the then-Prince Albert is jumping a 16-year-old girl, naked, taken on the second floor of the Mirano club 20 years ago.”

And already the web of whispering is spun. As if there were not enough divisions in Belgium, the country has split into two new camps since the capture of Marc Dutroux. 

There are the faithful and the non-believers. Both have their holy writings, their preachers, their exegetes, their circular letters, their epistles, and their martyrs. 

The faithful are convinced that behind Dutroux there is an omnipotent network that could remain undetected because its arms reach upwards — up to the top.

The unbelievers think this is nonsense. For the abundance and hysteria of a deeply insecure kingdom. But they, too, do not deny that during the search for Dutroux there were mishaps that would be stripped by any "crime scene" writer as untrustworthy from the script.

During the search for the two missing girls, Melissa and Julie, a policeman searches the house of Dutroux. He is aware that the homeowner is a convicted serial rapist. The police have also been given an indication that Dutroux created a basement cellar. 

As the policeman searches through the apartment, he finds chains, chloroform, vaginal cream, and a speculum. Then he hears children's screams. And he goes on his way. 

He accepted, he says later, that the screams could have come from the street. It was a cold winter morning. The streets were empty and all the children were in school.

Is he an accomplice or a hopeless incompetent? The stupid Belgians made no distinction in the autumn of 1996. They went onto the streets in their silence in the hundreds of thousands. 

The "White Marches" denied the state's legitimacy, which proved to be unable to protect the vulnerable, but at the same time they allowed a sex offender to be dismissed prematurely, to live on social assistance and to kidnap, abuse and discard children from their bicycles like Kleenex.

They had enough of the battles between the gendarmerie and the judiciary, the system of justice, which is only puffed up and organized like a cut-out sheet because all the clientele, the regions, the parties, have to be considered. 

Belgium staggered between the real Surrealism of the search and the nightmare stories of victims who made anonymous telephone calls to the police, which they previously deposited in the darkest corners of their psyches. Suddenly, dead children all over the country seemed buried.

The anguish increased as more and more people were killed in the investigation. A scrap dealer wanted to testify about the abduction car and was found poisoned, a little later, his wife was burned. 

An activist of the child protection movement died in an auto accident, shortly after she encountered "snuff movies,” videos, on which the murder of children can be seen. 

The prosecutor in Liège took a bullet to his head, a few hours after he was given free hand by the new Justice Minister, Marc Verwilghen, for his investigation.

All just coincidence? Or a reference to a powerful cartel? Questions without answers underline only the certainties of the faithful.

So many inconsistencies, negligence, untraceable traces can, according to the faithful, only point to a network. And if, despite years of meticulous work by journalists, no evidence that could be used in court was found, if only vague circumstantial evidence and the question remained, then one must wonder why so many traces were not pursued. 

And then it is also obvious to seek the head of the conspiracy, where no one can look, behind the gates of the royal palace.

The Belgian religious controversy extends into the investigative team. The senior prosecutor, Michel Bourlet, wants to take the investigation broadly, to eliminate any suspicion of a network. 

Jacques Langlois, the investigating judge, has decided on the infinite conspiracy history of pragmatics. He seems to assume that Dutroux is a perverse individual who wants to enter into business with children. Conscience and coldest cruelty. Someone who came up with the idea to sell children because he could not make money with stolen cars or videos.

This is conceivable. Perhaps Dutroux did not work for a professional network. Because he still had to build up his business capital on the road, from bicycles. Because he did not know that the ordinary pedophile goes other ways, silent, on which mostly no visible traces remain.

Mostly. Sometimes, though...

Regina Louf is a hard-fisted young woman who runs a dog breeders near Ghent, on the edge of Europastrasse 17. She is conspicuously growing up. Her whitewashed house is full of family photos in heart-shaped frames and angel figures. It smells like dogs. Even then, the men would sometimes have dogs, she says.

The world would be better if Regina Louf were crazy. Then you do not have to ask what it means for an eight-year-old to be sent up by her grandmother to the room with the number 7, where the uncle with the hairy belly will take off his pants again. 

Then one could shake the horror into another world, from which no screams can pass.

In Belgium there is hardly no one who does not know this woman. If not as Regina Louf, then as "X1.” Under this name, she was interrogated 13 times. The protocols were included as "Dossier X" in the long history of the Dutroux case.

The family background of Regina Louf fits into two sentences: "My mother was abused by her father, a police commissioner in Knokke, I was rented out by my mother, with my father's knowledge." 

She wanted to spare her own four children this tradition. That is why, she says, she has submitted to interrogation herself: "The curse should come to an end."

In part-time, nightmare sessions, X1 told the investigators of sadomasochistic orgies, where children were tortured, names and names. Since then, she says, she has not grown any more.

The stories of Regina Louf were in large parts devoid of information, but consisted primarily of images, which flash from a storm of feelings. Encrypted messages from a repressed time, in no case in themselves coherent reports, which one only need check.

But unlike the anonymous witness X3, there was something irritating the investigators. Regina Louf described in detail a sexual murder, which had strong similarities with the never quite understood death of Christine Van Hees. 

The 16-year-old was burned in February 1984 and tied up in the cellar of an old mushroom farm near the university on the Boulevard des Triumphes. 

X1 could precisely describe the long-torn scene of the crime, and mentioned details that were never previously known. 

A metal pin, for example, which was in the wrist of the dead.

When the interrogatory protocols were played out to the public, believers as well as unbelievers were confirmed in their attitudes. 

Regina Louf became one of the mythologists for the one, and the crowning witness for an all-embracing “other” plot. Both took the statements of a seriously traumatized woman at face value. 

"I have a memory, but I'm not a video recorder," she says today. 

Perhaps they are mistaken in their data, perhaps in a name. The menacing adults of that time can come back in memory as prominent names of today, as politicians or as a prince. 

Every adult is powerful for a defenseless child. But in essence, she could not deceive herself. 

It can be assumed that Regina Louf, alias X1, must have had a terrible childhood, from her closest friends to her own family. 

Her statements have nothing to do directly with the Dutroux case, as Louf describes a different period. And the debate about the truthfulness of the "Dossiers X" has delayed the investigation. 

But this woman withstood the temptations and made it possible to look into another world that will continue to exist even without Dutroux. Where children are sold by their own families, and by friends, without risk. 

She says, "These people are called pedophiles, they are pedophiles, they do not love children, they just know that children do not resist an adult and that children are not believed." 

There must be no politicians, no lawyers nor princes. 

"These are very normal, intelligent people with good manners and high society contacts." 

No monstrosities. The world would be better if Regina Louf were crazy. She is not. 

Jean Nicolas, Michel Nihoul, and Regina Louf are actors in an endless story. Engaged in a network of dossiers, lies and whispered half-truths, from deep injuries and a lot of louder convictions. A sticky net. 

A functioning judiciary should be able to unravel it. But with every day that Marc Dutroux sits silently in his cell, playing puzzles and studying history, with every day that process is waiting, and the web is tied. 

ALEXANDER SMOLTCZYK, Jean Nicolas, Frédéric Lavachery: Dossier Pédophilie, Le scandale de l''affaire Dutroux. Flammarion, Paris; 400 pages; 20 Euros. 

By Alexander Smoltczyk

This is my 12th installment on the pedophilia epidemic. 

Read dispatches 1-11 and forthcoming segments at, or on Medium:


Post a Comment

<< Home