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Gang-rape horror of 14-year-old girl - Usual suspects


Prosecutors have opened an investigation into the sickening gang rape of a 14-year-old girl in a wooded area in Belgium by ten other minors.

The girl, who remains unidentified for privacy reasons, was allegedly lured into a wooded area called Kabouterbos in Kortrijk, West Flanders (five miles from the French border), by her teenage boyfriend over the Easter school break.

Upon enticing her into the forest, close to an area used by mountain bikers, the boyfriend is said to have attacked his young partner before allegedly allowing several other boys to sexually assault her as well. Reports said the group filmed the attack on their smartphones and posted clips to social media.

Prosecutors have arrested ten suspected perpetrators aged between 11 and 16 and hauled them in for questioning, according to local reports.

Belgian outlet Nieuwsblad said the suspects were 'believed to be young people of immigrant origin'. It added that six of the suspects had been placed in a closed institution, while the other four were placed under house arrest.

The investigation has been conducted in the utmost secrecy by the West Flanders prosecutor's office to avoid any chance of family members of the victim or members of the public learning the identities of those involved.

But Nieuwsblad said prosecutors turned up 'reprehensible behaviour' on the part of the suspects and 'revenge-mongering facts', citing sources close to the investigation who said the alleged perpetrators showed 'a complete lack of sense of norms'.

'I have never experienced this in my career,' the lawyer for one of the suspects is reported to have told the newspaper.

The girl is thought to have spent two days in the forest where she was raped at least twice and tormented and abused by the gang of minors.

The group took turns abusing the victim, and all participated 'to a greater or lesser extent,' Nieuwsblad said in its report.

None of the group urged their friends to stop the abuse, it added.

Tom Janssens of the Public Prosecutor's Office said that on account of the age of all those involved, little is being said publicly on their identity.

He did confirm that ten suspects had been identified and arrested, and that all were minors. 'Because the perpetrators are so young, we are not releasing much information about their identity,' Janssens told The Brussels Times.

The investigation will now work to establish to what extent each suspect was involved in the assault on the 14-year-old girl, or if any were bystanders.

Kortrijk mayor Vincent Van Quickenborne said he was shocked when he first learned about the case that he has known about behind closed doors 'for some time'.

'The public prosecutor's office does not allow me to say anything about the facts themselves, but I had been aware of the investigation for some time,' he said.

'These are cra*py acts for which there are no words. I say that not only as a politician, but also as a father of 3 young children.'

Youth lawyer Kelly Decaluwé, who is defending one of the suspects, said the minors had 'all been interrogated simultaneously and the investigators will now test the statements to find out the truth'.

'These are horrible facts,' he said. 'The question is how it is possible that these children have lost all sense of norms. What should we do with this?

'How are we going to solve this? It is a question that should be asked not only to the juvenile judge but also to society as a whole. I have not yet experienced such facts in my fifteen-year career.'

The criminal age of responsibility in Belgium is 18, meaning the suspected sexual abusers were sent before a juvenile judge and are likely to have been placed into a personal rehabilitation programme in youth facilities.

But it is possible the 16-year-old in question could be dealt with under adult criminal law, given the exceptional nature of the case.

The victim, meanwhile, is receiving specialist guidance following her ordeal.