Skydiver 'sent love rival on horror fall'
A jealous skydiver caught up in a love triangle allegedly sabotaged the parachute of her close friend, Belgian police said yesterday, sending the woman plunging 13,000 feet to her death in a horrifying fall captured on video.
As her murder trial opened yesterday, Els Clottemans sat nervously in front of the mud-caked parachute bag and helmet that Els Van Doren wore as she frantically tried to open her parachute before crashing to the ground in November 2006.
Ms Clottemans, a 26-year-old schoolteacher, has vehemently denied the murder charge and accusations she killed her friend to claim for herself the Dutch skydiver that both were sleeping with. Her lawyers say there is no hard evidence to link her to the crime.
In a 68-page indictment, the prosecution said Ms Clottemans had both the time and the knowledge to sabotage the parachute and asserted that eliminating a romantic rival was the motive.
Chief defence lawyer Vic Van Aelst said prosecutors "have nothing" to tie his client to the death. "It cannot be true that you condemn someone to the most serious punishment based on claims and declarations," Mr Van Aelst said.
Ms Clottemans became a prime suspect when she attempted suicide hours before she was to make a second statement to police a month after the death.
A jury was selected yesterday at the trial in eastern Tongeren, the indictment was read and the defence gave its counter-arguments. The trial is expected to last a month and will include a testimony from Marcel, the man at the centre of the alleged love triangle.
A married mother of two children, Ms Van Doren (38) spent most weekends away from her family, skydiving and hanging out with Marcel at the skydiving club or his home. After the two became lovers, Ms Clottemans also became their friend, and also slept with Marcel.