Skydiver in murder trial
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.