Sky­diver in murder trial

Los Angeles Times - - The World -

BRUS­SELS — A fe­male Bel­gian sky­diver went on trial for murder Fri­day, ac­cused of killing the woman who was both her good friend and her lover’s paramour by sab­o­tag­ing the woman’s parachute.

Pros­e­cu­tors said jeal­ousy drove Els Clot­te­mans to kill Els Van Doren four years ago by turn­ing their shared pas­sion for sky­div­ing into a murder weapon.

Clot­te­mans, 26, has ve­he­mently de­nied the murder charges and ac­cu­sa­tions that she killed Van Doren so she could have the man, an­other Dutch sky­diver, all to her­self. Bel­gian pri­vacy laws make it im­pos­si­ble to iden­tify him.

Van Doren fell from 13,000 feet into a sub­ur­ban gar­den in east­ern Bel­gium af­ter both her parachute and her re­serve parachute did not open on Nov. 18, 2006.

A mar­ried mother of two and an ex­pe­ri­enced sky­div­ing en­thu­si­ast, Van Doren had jumped from a plane to­gether with Clot­te­mans, their Dutch lover and an­other sky­diver, in­tend­ing to per­form tricks in the sky.

Clot­te­mans jumped a frac­tion too late and did not join the ma­neu­vers with the other three.

When the sign was given to open the para­chutes, Van Doren strug­gled with her cords be­fore hurtling to­ward the ground. The dra­matic moment was cap­tured on video, filmed by a cam­era strapped on Van Doren’s gear.

Clot­te­mans be­came a prime sus­pect when she at­tempted sui­cide hours be­fore she was to make a sec­ond state­ment to po­lice a month af­ter the in­ci­dent. Pros­e­cu­tors al­lege that Clot­te­mans had tam­pered with Van Doren’s parachute and cut two vi­tal cords be­fore the jump.

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