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Belgians rally for better law enforcement

Twenty-thousand people marched through Brussels on Sunday demanding politicians stop bickering and give Belgians better law enforcement and government.

In the second demonstration of its kind in 16 months, Belgians expressed anger that the country's fragmented police forces have not been revamped in the wake of a child molestation-murder case that has gripped the country since mid-1996.In April 1997, a parliamentary panel blamed the deaths of four girls on police blunders and inaction; it recommended streamlining law enforcement. Premier Jean-Luc Dehaene has proposed a gradual approach, saying he hoped Parliament would adopt the first reforms before 1999 elections.

Belgium has local and judicial police forces as well as a paramilitary state police that has local precincts.

A second parliamentary report is expected this week relating to activities of Marc Dutroux, a convicted pedophile and the chief suspect in the child sex killings.

Sources said the report will discount suggestions that Dutroux and his suspected accomplices, some of whom also are in custody, enjoyed protection from police or politicians in and near the southern city of Charleroi. However, they said the draft text indicated Dutroux operated freely in Charleroi because law enforcement there is lax.