A young Belgian woman who was imprisoned and repeatedly raped by the alleged child murderer, Marc Dutroux, has asked him in court why he did not kill her during nearly three months of captivity.

Sabine Dardenne, who began giving evidence at a court in the town of Arlon near Brussels today, was 12 years old when she was abducted in 1996.

Ms Dardenne was found almost three months later in the basement of Dutroux’s house.

From behind the dock's bulletproof glass, Dutroux, 47, said he never intended to kill her.

Ms Dardenne did not accept his answer and later rejected an apology offered by his ex-wife, Michelle Martin, also standing trial.

Dutroux, Martin and two other suspects face charges of kidnapping and raping six girls and murdering four of them - two of whom were aged just eight.

The case has provoked a wave of public outrage in Belgium over the crimes and over police and judiciary bungling of the search for the girls.

Dutroux denies murder charges

Dutroux has admitted rape and kidnapping but has denied murder, blaming other suspects.

He has also fuelled a widely-held belief that he worked for a vast yet mysterious paedophile ring, describing himself as a reluctant collaborator.