Skydiver jailed for murdering love rival
A schoolteacher who killed her love rival by sabotaging her parachute before they went skydiving with the man they both loved was yesterday sentenced to 30 years for murder.
Els Clottemans (26) was found guilty by a jury of killing Els Van Doren (38). She avoided the most severe penalty of life without parole and must serve a minimum of 10 years.
The conviction has divided opinion in Belgium because it was based on circumstantial evidence after a lack of forensic evidence.
The court in Tongeren, southern Belgium, heard during the trial that she had the know-how, the opportunity and a motive -- jealousy -- to disable Mrs Van Doren's parachute.
Days before the fateful jump, Clottemans had been banished to a sleeping bag in the living room of the home of Marcel Somers, her one-time boyfriend, when Mrs Van Doren came round to spend the night.
All three were members of the same skydiving club and Mr Somers, the instructor, kept all the parachutes in the same room where Clottemans spent the night.
On the day of the jump in November 2006, all three were supposed to link up in formation but Clottemans held back, watching while Mrs Van Doren tried to open her main and then her emergency parachute.
Her final moments before crashing in a garden in Flanders were recorded on a camera in her helmet and played back to the jury.
Clottemans was arrested a few weeks later but maintained her innocence throughout.
The four-week court case concluded with an appeal for the maximum possible sentence by the state prosecutor.
Clottemans was said to be considering an appeal to Belgium's Supreme Court.