Els Clottemans Sentenced in Skydiving Love Triangle Murder
Els Clottemans Sentenced to 30 Years for Murder of Els Van Doren
Belgian schoolteacher Els Clottemans was found guilty of murdering Els Van Doren by sabotaging her parachute before a skydive, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Els Clottemans maintains that she is innocent, and critics of the trial say that emotion overpowered reason during the jury's decisionmaking process.
Els Clottemans and Els Van Doren were on the same skydiving team, and were both involved with the same man, Marcel Somers. In 2006, Els Clottemans sabotaged Els Van Doren's parachute before a group jump, according to prosecutors.
Els Clottemans Convicted on Circumstantial Evidence
The evidence used to convict Els Clottemans was circumstantial, however: while it could be proven that Clottemans spent the night in the same room as Van Doren's parachute, no concrete evidence exists that she cut the chute straps.
Her trial began on 24 September with the accused sitting nervously near the mud-caked parachute bag and helmet that Mrs Van Doren wore on the day she died. The jury saw video footage Mrs Van Doren had shot during what would be her last jump.
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 Van Doren, 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.