Wednesday 11 December 2019

Teacher killed love rival by sabotaging her parachute

Robert Wielaard in Brussels

A jealous schoolteacher was found guilty of murder yesterday for sabotaging the parachute of a rival in a love triangle, causing her to crash to her death.

The verdict against Els Clottemans (26) ended a monthlong trial that revealed no hard proof that she had sabotaged Els Van Doren's parachute so that neither it nor a safety chute opened during a November 18, 2006 jump over eastern Belgium.

Ms Van Doren, then 38, jumped that day with 11 other parachutists, including Clottemans, from a small plane flying at 4,500 meters. The 12 jurors agreed with the prosecution that the evidence was circumstantial, but overwhelming.

They agreed that jealousy was a motive: the killer and her victim were intimately involved with the same a man, a Dutch skydiver, whom Clottemans wanted for herself.

She and Ms Van Doren were members of the same parachute club.

During the trial, the jury was told that Clottemans, an accomplished skydiver, knew very well how to disable a parachute.

Evidence showed she also sent anonymous letters about Ms Van Doren's love life to mutual friends and is psychologically unstable, having attempted suicide in December 2006.

Sentencing is set for today, and Clottemans faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Her trial opened September 24 with the accused sitting nervously near the mud-caked parachute bag and helmet that Els Van Doren wore on the day she died.

The victim's son and daughter, 17 and 19 respectively, left the courtroom in tears after Clottemans pleaded for clemency saying she had lost her father at a young age.

Irish Independent

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