LIEGE, Belgium – A court ruled Thursday that a suspect in the killing of two schoolgirls whose bodies were found hidden in a storm drain must remain jailed, despite his lawyers arguing there is no evidence linking him to the girls' disappearance and slaying.
A convicted child rapist, Abdallah Aid Oud, 39, has been charged with the girls' kidnapping and has been held by police since handing himself in on June 13. He denies any involvement in their disappearance almost three weeks ago.
Prosecutor Anne Bourguignon said investigators may not release the results of the autopsies on the two girls later Thursday as originally expected.
"We don't want to compromise the investigation," Bourguignon said.
The parents of the two girls — 7-year-old Stacy Lemmens and Nathalie Mahy, 10 — who all visited the morgue earlier Thursday, will be informed of the results of the autopsies first, officials said.
In the light of the killings, the European Union's top justice official urged all member states to step up their fight against pedophilia and child pornography. He said the European Commission is to adopt a European charter on children's rights next week, to increase the level of protection.
"I think the whole of Europe has to voice its outrage and horror at the murder of the two children here in Belgium, and we can only hope that the police and judicial inquiries under way will quickly bring the guilty person or persons to justice," EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini told journalists in Brussels.
Mourners laid flowers and placed candles near the spot where the remains of the girls were found Wednesday stuffed into a storm sewer covered by thick undergrowth alongside a railroad line running through this gritty eastern steel town.
The classmates of Stacy and Nathalie got a day off from school Thursday to help them deal with the shock. The Belgian parliament canceled its weekly session out of respect for the victims.
The discovery revived painful memories for Belgians of a similar case.
A convicted pedophile, Marc Dutroux snatched two 8-year-olds, Julie Lejeune and Melissa Russo, from a Liege street in 1995, held them for months, before allowing them to starve to death locked in a basement while he served time for a minor offense.