Reconstruction of Julie Van Espen’s murder cancelled after suspect refuses to cooperate

Reconstruction of Julie Van Espen’s murder cancelled after suspect refuses to cooperate
The reconstruction of Julie Van Espen's murder has been cancelled. Credit: Belga.

The reconstruction of Julie Van Espen’s murder was cancelled on Tuesday afternoon after the confessed killer, Steve Bakelmans, refused to cooperate, according to Antwerp's public prosecutor.

Bakelmans, who has already confessed to killing the 23-year-old student, was due to participate in a reconstruction of the murder scene this Tuesday.

But within half an hour of his arrival at the crime scene he decided not to cooperate, according to local media reports.

"This is another blow to my clients. The reason why he is not cooperating is not clear, but the final conclusion is that he is not participating", said John Maes, lawyer to the Van Espen family.

The suspect said that he is willing to cooperate, but today he did not feel able to do so. He has since been returned to his cell.

Given that police cannot force a suspect to cooperate, the reconstruction was consequently cancelled, confirmed Antwerp's Mayor, Gabriel Theunisbrug.

Originally, the reconstruction of the murder was designed to give investigators more insight into what exactly happened to Van Espen. The police had blocked off the area where the murder took place — Vaartdijk on the Albert Canal — and shielded it from traffic to ensure total discretion. Bakelmans was then due to explain his actions to the investigative team.

Bakelmans, who has previously been convicted for rape, confessed to murdering Van Espen as she was cycling from her hometown Schilde to Antwerp on May 4.

Bakelmans attempted to rape Van Espen, but killed her when she fought back against him.

Madeleine Fletcher

The Brussels Times

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