Pastor, Daughter Guilty of Killings
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ In a murder trial without bodies, a jury found a self-styled pastor and his daughter guilty Tuesday of killing a half dozen family members and dissolving the remains in chemicals.
The jury convicted Andras Pandy, 74, and his daughter Agnes, 44, after deliberating for six hours. The two face life in prison at sentencing Wednesday.
The trial, which has had Belgians transfixed for more than two weeks, centered on such questions as whether a father can force his own daughter to kill her mother and siblings, and how long it takes a particular brand of drain cleaner to eat away a human body.
Pandy’s two wives, two sons and two stepdaughters disappeared years ago. The Hungarian-born Pandy insisted they are still alive and that he is ``in contact with them through angels.″
But Agnes, the prosecution’s star witness, said she had been forced to cooperate in the killing of five of her family members.
Prosecutors allege Pandy raped his daughters and stepdaughters, then turned to murder between 1986 and 1989 to cover up the incest after one stepdaughter, Timea, then 20, became pregnant.
He was also charged with the attempted murder of Timea, who then fled to Canada and Hungary, with her son, now 16.
In closing arguments, defense lawyer Bruno Degryse argued that Pandy should be acquitted because there can be no conviction without bodies.
And although Agnes Pandy confessed to participating in the murders, her lawyer Walter Muls said she should go free because she was under the ``overwhelming irresistible spell″ of a father who had raped her.
Medical experts stunned the jury last week with photographic evidence of how drain cleaner works on dissolving a body.
Pandy’s defense dismissed the evidence. ``So they proved a human body can be dissolved, but does it prove my client did it?″ asked Degryse.
Such question marks have dogged the case ever since police started digging for human remains in 1997 in several homes owned by Pandy. They found body parts in one cellar, but DNA tests showed they were not from the missing Pandy family members. It remains unclear whose body parts those were.
When asked why the missing family members could not be traced in four years of searching, Pandy replied: ``It is up to justice to prove they are dead. When I’m free again, they will come and visit me.″