Saturday, February 23, 2013
Belgian kindergarten murder trial begins
GHENT, Belgium (Reuters) - A Belgian court set out on Friday to judge the sanity of a man who admitted to killing two babies and a child minder and wounding many others at a day-care centre.
In January 2009, Kim De Gelder, then 20 years old, launched his attacks at the Fabeltjesland -- Fairytale Land -- creche in Dendermonde, 30 km (20 miles) west of Brussels, slashing at victims with a knife, killing a six- and nine-month-old child and a woman child minder.
"I saw a small child, grabbed it by its back and stabbed in its throat, it died in my arms and I put it back on the floor," De Gelder told investigators during his interrogation, according to the indictment read out on Friday.
Apart from the murder of the three, De Gelder is also accused of the attempted murder of 22 others at the day-care centre, many of whom he wounded severely with his knife.
De Gelder later also admitted to killing a female pensioner one week before his killing spree at the day-care centre. On that occasion he posed as a water inspector to get the woman to let him into her house.
With the facts above not being disputed by the defence, the case centres on whether Kim De Gelder, now 24, is sane enough to answer for his killings.
"When he committed the facts Kim De Gelder was not sane and cannot be punished for the facts," Jaak Haentjens, De Gelder's lawyer, told the court in Ghent on Friday.
A report by psychologists appointed by the prosecutors said, however, that De Gelder was sane when committing his crimes, as he prepared them meticulously months in advance.
De Gelder also set out to kill a family of three, two days before his murder of the pensioner, prosecutors say, but he aborted this attempt after failing to get into their house. His lawyer said he disputes this.
Under Belgian law, a defendant is not obliged to enter a plea.
(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Stephen Powell)