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Committee Weighs Pedophilia Accusations Against Vice Premier

November 20, 1996

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ A Cabinet minister suggested today there was little evidence to support pedophilia accusations against a deputy prime minister under investigation by a parliamentary committee.

Belgian newspapers reported last weekend that an unidentified man accused Elio Di Rupo of sexually abusing young boys. The parliamentary committee can dismiss the allegations, send the case back to police for further investigation or refer it to the Supreme Court.

Belgium is already reeling from charges that police bungled _ and high-level officials may have interfered with _ an investigation into a child sex ring blamed for killing at least four girls.

Research Minister Yvan Ylieff said today that ``very little is in the dossier″ against Di Rupo, a member of the French-speaking Socialist Party.

Ylieff said the police report includes only one witness account of a man who claims to have met Di Rupo several years ago. Newspaper echoed Ylieff’s account of the report, saying the single witness, now in jail, described Di Rupo’s alleged involvement with him and under-aged boys in 1989 and 1990.

Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene has not commented on the case since it broke four days ago. Dehaene heads a four-party coalition made up of Christian Democrats and Socialists, each split into Dutch and French-speaking parties.

Di Rupo is economics and telecommunications minister and one of four vice premiers. He is the No. 2 man in the French-speaking Socialist Party.

Three of the four parties in the coalition have already said that if the evidence against him isn’t strong enough, they will send the case back to investigators.

A government minister can only be tried for a criminal offense after the legislature has lifted his parliamentary immunity, and then only by Belgium’s highest court, the Supreme Court.

Over the past few months, Belgians have been angered by revelations of a murderous child sex ring and the seemingly endless examples of bungling of police in trying to find the missing children.

Sex and graft scandals have appeared at a steady rate ever since, implicating government ministers and officials from the regional government

A regional minister, Jean-Pierre Grafe, also faces allegations of pedophilia.

More than 300,000 Belgians vented their anger against the government in spontaneous strikes and protests last month, and demanded action to stop child abuse.

Convicted child rapist Marc Dutroux is in jail, accused of kidnapping six girls ages 8 to 19. Two were rescued by police after Dutroux’s arrest in August.

Update hourly