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    Convicted killer flees ahead of 15-year prison sentence

    A street in Melsele, where the fugitive convict was staying while awaiting the start of his sentence. Credit: Google Street View

    A man convicted of killing his partner but not immediately incarcerated has vanished days after he was expected to start serving out his 15-year-prison sentence in East Flanders.

    Paul Bloemen, 53, was convicted of manslaughter in May, after a court found him guilty of killing his 47-year-old partner Anja Vanheer, found strangled in her home in Kortenaken “in an unnatural position” two years ago, according to HLN.

    Bloemen was reportedly at the house at the time of his victim’s discovery but said he could not explain his actions, claiming he had blacked out for days.

    After his conviction, he was released with an ankle bracelet and sent to wait out the start of his sentence in his brother’s house in the town of Melsele.

    During his time there, Bloemen reportedly filed an appeal against his sentence, and public prosecutors on Wednesday informed Vanheer’s relatives that the convicted killer, who was expected to be summoned to prison as soon as next week, “was gone.”

    “I was so upset that I forgot to ask how or what,” Gerda Vanheer, the sister of the victim, said.

    The victim’s sister said that Bloemen’s appeal against his sentence was “just a trick to be able to sit at home longer with an ankle strap,” adding he simply wanted to buy himself more time to plan his escape.

    Authorities have launched a nation-wide alert for the escaped convict, but Vanheer’s relatives have raised concerns that he may attempt to flee the country, and slammed authorities for their lack of judgement.

    “What if he crosses the border with a car and takes the plane? I find this disgusting. Penalty reduction, no immediate arrest, and now this,” the victim’s sister said, adding that authorities had made a “serious error of judgement” in this case.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times