Woman found guilty of skydiving love triangle murder

20th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

A 26-year-old Belgian schoolteacher was found guilty on Wednesday of killing her romantic rival by sabotaging her parachute in a skydiving love-triangle.

Els Clottemans sat stony-faced as the 12-member jury's verdict was read in the northeast Flemish town of Tongres at the end of a trial that captivated Belgium.

Clottemans, who claimed her innocence again before the verdict, faces between three years to life in prison. The sentence will be decided in a separate hearing.

The jurors replied "yes" to the question of her guilt and as to whether the crime was premeditated, judge Michel Jordans said in a televised verdict.

Clottemans stood trial for the death of 38-year-old Els Van Doren, a mother of three and experienced skydiver who plunged to her death in a garden when her parachute failed to open on November 18, 2006.

Investigators said both of Van Doren's parachutes had been interfered with and that two straps were cut.

Van Doren shared a passion with Clottemans for skydiving, as well as for the same man, Marcel Somers.

On the day of the accident, 12 skydivers boarded a Cessna and both women along with Somers and another man were supposed to join tgoether in the air, but Clottemans jumped too late, leaving the others to form a trio.

But when the three separated and opened their parachutes, Van Doren's failed to open.

Police arrested Clottemans in January 2007, saying she had been staying with her lover a week before the fatal jump when Van Doren too showed up.

Investigators said Somers spent the night with the latter, throwing the younger woman out of his room and forcing her to sleep on a mattress in the living room, where Van Doren had left her parachute.

Clottemans denied messing with the parachute and says investigators were blinded by the belief she acted out of jealousy. She says there was no proof, no witnesses and no confession to bear out the charge.

© 2010 AFP

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