European rights court finds Belgian judge infringed human rights of serial killer

The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that a Belgian judge violated the human rights of convicted serial killer Andras Pandy by comparing him to notorious French murderers during a pretrial hearing.

The court said the comparison had denied Pandy his presumption of innocence going into the trial. However it rejected Pandy's contention that the subsequent trial that led to his conviction and life sentence had not been fair.

The ruling was not expected to lead to a retrial for the Hungarian-born pastor who was convicted of murdering two wives and four of his children as well as a series of rapes and sexual assaults of family members.

An investigating judge in the Belgian hearing compared Pandy to early 20th-century French serial killers Henri Landru and Dr. Marcel Petiot. The comments "were unacceptable from an investigating judge, who was responsible for collecting both incriminating and exonerating evidence," said a unanimous ruling from the seven judges at the European court, reports AP.

However they refused to grant any damages to Pandy and said he had received a fair trial in Belgium despite the judge's comments.

Pandy, then 72, was convicted in 2002 after a trial that horrified Belgians. Prosecutors said Pandy raped his daughters and stepdaughters, then turned to murder between 1986 and 1989 to cover up the incest after one stepdaughter became pregnant.

Police started digging for human remains in 1997 in several Brussels homes owned by Pandy. They found body parts in one cellar, but he was believed to have dissolved the bodies of most of his victims in chemical drain cleaner. One daughter, Agnes Pandy, then 44, was convicted of helping her father kill family members and received a 21-year sentence.