Sabine and Laetitia live to tell their horrifying story

SABINE Dardenne was 12 when her 80-day rape ordeal in the house of Belgian paedophile and murderer Marc Dutroux began.

Laetitia Delhez was 14 when she was abducted, to be imprisoned in the same cellar as Sabine while Dutroux abused her in turn. They were not the first victims of Dutroux but what was different about these two girls was that, unlike four others, they lived to tell their story.

Ms Dardenne's testimony in court this April proved particularly damning in the eyes of the Belgian press.

"Speechless as if paralysed by the force of the speech from the person whom he kidnapped, tortured, raped and deceived for three months while she was only a child, Dutroux received more punches in one hour than he had taken since the beginning of the trial," wrote La Libre Belgique.

During her imprisonment, Ms Dardenne was encouraged by Dutroux to write to her family. The letters from the "agony room", as she called her jail, were never posted but were later discovered.

At one point in the hushed courtroom, she simply asked Dutroux: "Why did you not kill me?"

Correspondents were impressed by the composure and maturity of Ms Dardenne, now 20.

Laetitia Delhez's ordeal was shorter six days but in that time Dutroux chained her to a bed and raped her, she said in her testimony.

She insisted on returning to the dungeon-like cellar in the Dutroux home in Marcinelle along with Ms Dardenne, and court officials in April to help her "come to terms" with what had happened there.

Now a woman of 22, Laetitia Ms Delhez recalled for the court how Dutroux had appeared to revel in the abuse he was inflicting. The determination of both women has earned them widespread admiration in Belgium and beyond.

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