The former spouses were arrested in Abidjan, the capital of Côte d’Ivoire, in November 2019 after Europol placed Van Acker on a special “ most wanted ” list with only women a month earlier. Her ex-husband Lacote had been on a Europol list for some time. Shortly after, they were extradited to Belgium.
The two were arrested in 1996 on suspicion of murdering the Briton, but fled to South Africa on parole. There, Lacote ended up in jail after an attempted kidnapping. Van Acker dramatically freed him in 2008 posing as a policewoman. Since then, no trace of the two has disappeared. In 2011, they were sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment in Belgium for the murder of the businessman.
Also in the new trial, in which the life sentence could be reviewed in the presence of the suspects, the jury now declares that they are guilty of the murder. They themselves have maintained their innocence.
Lacote and Van Acker plan to appeal their convictions. They have fourteen days to do so.
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