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Police dig for bodies in Belgian minister's cellar


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October 21, 1997
Web posted at: 7:27 p.m. EDT (2327 GMT)

BRUSSELS, Belgium (CNN) -- The discovery of human remains -- a skull, jaw, thigh and hip bones -- were all Belgian police needed this week to bring a charge of murder against a 70-year-old Protestant minister.

Police arrested Andreas Pandy, a native of Hungary who now is a naturalized Belgian, after a search of his three houses in Brussels uncovered several bones -- including a human femur -- and two refrigerators packed with large chunks of meat of unknown origin. Police say they also found an urn containing ashes, and blood on a stairway.

The searches were ordered after police in Belgium and Hungary police failed to find Pandy's two former wives and four of his eight children.

vxtreme CNN's Patricia Kelly reports.

Jos Colpin, a spokesman for the Brussels public prosecutor, said Pandy's two wives and four children disappeared between 1986 and 1989 -- the children were born between 1961 and 1971 -- and Pandy told authorities they had returned to Hungary.

But they suspect that he murdered them.

"Using fake papers he tried to prove they were still alive in Hungary," Colpin said. "There can be practically no doubt about the disappearance of the six persons."

Police are concentrating their search on one of the three houses where human bones were found hidden under a slab of concrete in the cellar.

"My client denies all the charges," says attorney Bart de Geest. "We'll leave it at that for the moment."

'He was a very reserved person'

As the search continues, more details of Pandy's past emerge. He fled Hungary after the Russian invasion in 1956, but continued to make frequent visits to his native country. He has dual citizenship.

Belgian police

A spokesman for the United Protestant Church says Pandy came from Budapest and registered with the church, but never had any official contact with it. He is known to have lead religious services and provided religious education, but his exact religious affiliation has not been disclosed.

Belgian media report that one of Pandy's surviving children testified that her father had relationships with about 20 Hungarian women in the early 1990s, when he advertised in Hungarian newspapers for a third wife.

"He was a very reserved person," says Ahmed Boutini, a neighbor. "We didn't see much of him."

The police dossier on Pandy's missing family is one of many that have been reopened after an official inquiry earlier this year criticized Belgian police and the judiciary for not doing a thorough job of investigating reports of missing children and adults.

Belgian crime wave continues

The Pandy case is reminiscent of an accidental find in August 1996, when the bodies of three women were found in the freezers of a popular Lebanese restaurant in Brussels. One of the bodies was cut in half.

They are also part of a wider spate of violent crimes in Belgium.

A series of pedophile-related murders revealed over the past year in Belgium has disturbed many and provoked outrage, especially the mention of missing children and the discovery of bones and body parts.

A series of 28 daylight murders at supermarkets, known as the "Brabant Killings," in the south of the country in the 1980s has never been solved. Nor has the 1991 gunning down of socialist party patriarch Andre Cools.

And in southern Belgium, police are still looking for a serial killer who has cut up at least five victims before dumping their body parts along roads or rivers.

Correspondent Patricia Kelly and Reuters contributed to this report.

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