WARNING: Disturbing Content.
Psychopath child killer Marc Dutroux who chained up little girls in his suburban dungeon before raping, torturing and murdering them is making a bid to be freed from jail.
The Belgian serial killer who planned a mass abduction of girls to create his own underground city of kidnapped children is composing sick letters to the parents of his victims.
Dutroux, who claims freedom is his human "right" as a citizen is writing the letters "to demonstrate he is not necessarily the cold monster" described in accounts of his terrible crimes.
Dutroux has been called "the monster of Belgium" since he and his then wife, who acted as his accomplice, murdered four girls as young as eight years old.
Two of the girls were buried alive, two starved to death as Dutroux's wife Michelle Martin fed the dogs guarding the imprisoned.
Two other girls miraculously were rescued before Dutroux had time to kill them.
One of the girls had spent 80 days chained up and raped in a filthy secret room built into one of the psychopath's many properties.
Eight years after her ordeal, Sabine Dardenne electrified a court when she questioned why Dutroux hadn't murdered her after grabbing her off her bicycle on the way to school and putting her in a white van.
Dardenne described to the court how Dutroux, then aged 39, chained her up as his 12-year-old sex slave, and raped her "sweating like an animal".
"I have one thing to ask of Marc Dutroux, even though I know I think I know the answer. "Why didn't he just liquidate me, since he was always complaining about my pig-headed stubbornness?" she said, alluding to the fate of four other girls found dead on his property.
Dutroux had told Dardenne he was saving her from a "wicked chief" and she could survive by being a "good girl".
Dutroux had earlier told his defence lawyer that he planned to create an "underground city" in an abandoned mineshaft.
"My idea was to carry out mass kidnappings of children and then to create, in a mine shaft, a sort of underground city where good, harmony and security would prevail."
Now Dutroux has instructed his latest lawyer, Bruno Dayez, to write to the families of the girls he kidnapped and killed, paving the way for his release from prison in 2021.
His now ex-wife Michelle Martin was released by Belgian authorities from prison to a convent less than half way through her sentence, in 2013.
"The step is to take a step towards the victims, do what we can call in a vocabulary a little outdated, an act of contrition," Dayez said about Dutroux's proposed letter.
"The idea is to demonstrate that he is not necessarily the cold monster that one tends to describe.
"But that he has a certain capacity to adhere to the suffering of his victims, to recognise his responsibilities, and to echo that he is not insensitive to the suffering he has caused.
"It is a step that seems important to me and for which the moment seems propitious."
The father of one of Dutroux's victims denounced the letter on Facebook as "purely strategic for his release".
Jean-Denis Lejeune is the father of Julie Lejeune, one of the two eight-year-old girls Dutroux kidnapped in a rampage of crimes that shocked the whole of Europe.
But the justice system in Belgium was partly responsible for the fact that the psychopathic child molester was free to commit them.
It has never been fully explained why Belgian police didn't go straight to Dutroux and arrest him when little girls across the country began to go missing.
Dutroux, the child of teachers who worked in the Belgian Congo, trained as an electrician and began his criminal career stealing cars, dealing drugs and robbing people in violent muggings.
He made enough money trading stolen cars to countries behind the iron curtain to buy seven houses, three of which he would use to torture children.
At his main residence in Marcinelle, an old mining suburb in the southern Belgian town of Charleroi, he built a secret cellar hole one metre wide, 1.6m tall and just over 2m long.
It was hidden behind a concrete door disguised as a shelf.
Dutroux had two children from an early marriage and three by his second to Martin, a schoolteacher, who he married while they were both in prison.
In 1989, Dutroux was sentenced to just over 13 years, Martin to five years for abducting and raping five young girls in 1986.
Dutroux behaved himself in prison and was released in 1992 after just three years.
He went on to a government mental health pension and was prescribed sedatives, which he reportedly began to hoard.
On June 24, 1995, Julie Lejeune and Mélissa Russo, both 8, were kidnapped together off a street near their home in Liege, 85km east of Dutroux's Marcinelle home.
They were taken to the Marcinelle house and locked in the cellar dungeon, while the girls' images were plastered on missing posters.
Dutroux, a convicted sex offender, was a prime suspect from the start, yet he wasn't arrested.
He sexually abused the girls and made videos of hurting them.
On August 22, 1995, An Marchal, 17, and Eefje Lambrecks, 19, were on a camping trip to Ostend, a seaside Belgian city.
The pair vanished after getting off a tram and may have been picked up in a van later used by Dutroux and his associate, heroin addict Michel Lelievre, who was paid in drugs.
The girls were forced to swallow a sedative, and taken back to Marcinelle.
Because the dungeon already had two little girls inside, the teenagers were held upstairs and chained to a bed and raped.
Soon afterwards, Dutroux buried them alive at a different property.
In December 1995, police arrested Dutroux for his part in a luxury car racket, and imprisoned him for three months.
Officers searched the Marcinelle house while he was in custody and a locksmith who helped officers enter the premises heard voices through the walls.
They were the cries of Julie Lejeune and Mélissa Russo, still alive in the basement dungeon, but the police officer in charge failed to investigate.
Police left and Michelle Martin continued to visit the Marcinelle house to feed Dutroux's German Shepherds, but did not go in to the dungeon and give the girls any food.
At some point, Lejeune and Russo starved to death and their bodies were later buried in bin bags.
Martin later told a court that she didn't open the dungeon for fear the girls "like wild animals would come to attack me".
On March 20, 1996, Dutroux was released from prison.
Two months later, with Michel Lelievre in the white van, Dutroux kidnapped Sabine Dardenne and imprisoned her in the Marcinelle dungeon.
For the next 80 days, Dardenne was shut in what she called a "chamber of agony", fed tinned food and brackish water.
She was allowed to write and occasionally watch television.
Dutroux brought her to the surface for sex sessions on days she marked with an "X" in her heart-rending diary.
"If I gave Monsieur pleasure, he allowed me to watch television for one, two, or three hours," she later told Dutroux's trial.
Listening to her testimony at the hearing, Pol Marchal, the father of An Marchal who Dutroux had buried alive, collapsed in the courtroom.
On August 9, 1996 Dutroux and Lelievre kidnapped Laetitia Delhez as she walked home from a public swimming pool.
A person on the street saw a white van and recorded a partial licence plate before the 14-year-old was dragged into the van and taken off to join Sabine Dardenne in the dungeon.
It was a chance sighting which police believed saved Sabine's life, believing that Dutroux had chosen another victim and planned to get rid of Dardenne.
For the few days they spent together in Dutroux's prison, Delhez told Dardenne "the whole of Belgium" was searching for her.
The younger girl couldn't believe it because Dutroux had told her that her family had abandoned her after refusing to pay him a ransom.
Four days after Delhez vanished, police arrested Dutroux, Michelle Martin and Lelievre.
Again, police searched the Marcinelle house and found nothing.
But Martin and Lelievre crumbled under questioning and confessed to detectives their roles in the girls' kidnappings.
Under police guard, Dutroux was taken to the Marcinelle house and on August 15, 1996 Sabine Dardenne and Laetitia Delhez were found alive.
Their rescue, shown on Belgian television, gave a ray of hope to the parents of the girls who had gone missing without a trace.
That was short-lived.
The following day the brutally abused bodies of Julie Lejeune and Mélissa Russo were found in the garden at Sars-la-Buissière.
On September 3, the remains of An Marchal and Eefje Lambrecks were exhumed from under a shack next to another of Dutroux's houses.
Hundreds of pornographic videos, and homemade sex films that Dutroux had made with his wife Michelle Martin, were recovered.
Dutroux told police several self-serving stories, including that he was protecting girls from a sinister and powerful child sex ring organised by a Brussels businessman.
He also boasted about how he had built his "undetectable" dungeon in an old water cistern.
"I did all the electrical work myself and put in three different lights to light up the place really well," he said.
He had built a miniature table and installed a TV for the eight-year-old girls who he claimed "agreed to stay in my house because worse things would happen to them elsewhere".
The case galvanised Belgians in fury and grief at the botched investigation into Dutroux and the missing girls' cases, and sloppy police work.
A massive protest march of 300,000 people on the Belgian capital Brussels demanded reforms of the country's justice system.
In 1998, Dutroux managed to escape for several hours from a courthouse.
More than seven years after his arrest, Dutroux went to trial in 2004, with his wife and Lelievre tried as accomplices.
All three were found guilty, Dutroux receiving a life sentence, Martin 30 years and Lelievre 25.
Despite public protests, Martin was released on parole after serving 13 years.
Lelievre has been granted leave from prison, and Marc Dutroux now campaigns for his release to wear an electronic anklet.
Currently in Nivelles prison, a short drive from where he imprisoned little girls, Dutroux claims he is "no longer dangerous".