ROBIN UTRECHT

Mentally challenged girl locked up and abused in Brussels cellar

A court in Brussels is set to pronounce its verdict in the case of a 17-year-old girl who was locked up and raped in a cellar for several months. The defendant is a 22-year-old man, who stands accused of incarcerating the mentally handicapped girl for over two months. 

The girl was kept in a cellar in the Brussels borough of Evere in conditions described as atrocious.

Prosecutors are seeking a 15-year sentence.  Released after his arrest only three days later the 22-year-old claimed a new victim.  With police on his track he fled to France where he was arrested a second time.  The man's father is also on trial accused of negligence.  It's claimed he was aware of what was going on but never intervened.  Prosecutors are seeking a two-year jail term.

It was in 2016 that the young man initiated a relationship with the girl, who has a mental age of 13.  He convinced her to come and live with him.  The public prosecutor claimed the girl was only allowed out of the cellar in the man's presence.  She was raped repeatedly and given a sandwich every three days as well as a bucket to wash with. When she was discovered she could hardly stand and her eyes hurt in the sunlight.  There was no window in the cellar.  It was the victim’s sister who finally discovered her in the cellar.

Prosecutors concede that the man's release after his arrest was a mistake.  He had already started a new relationship with a gullible young woman.  She too was locked up in the house and her mobile phone taken away when she came to live with him. When the police hit onto this, the defendant fled to France where he was eventually arrested.

The psychiatrist, who examined the defendant, noted psychopathic and sadistic traits.  The prosecutor pointed out that the defendant tortured animals, wasn't bothered about using sexual violence and could make more victims."

The defendant's lawyer argued that the victims were madly in love with the young man and that the reason for his behaviour lies in past trauma: at the age of six he saw his mother die in a traffic accident."