The main suspect in the murder of 23-year-old Julie Van Espen will remain in preventive detention as the investigation continues, his lawyer confirmed. Following a hearing on Friday morning, the detention warrant issued against Steve Bakelmanns, who confessed to murdering Van Espen on May 7 and throwing her body near an Antwerp canal, has been maintained by Antwerp’s Council Chamber.
Bakelmann’s lawyer did not ask the chamber for his defendant’s release, and told RTBF that it was “important for Bakelmann to continue collaborating in the investigation.”
Bakelmann, who had been twice-convicted for rape, attempted to rape Julie and then murdered her after he was released during an appeal following his second trial.
Julie’s murder caused a wave of indignation across Belgium, prompting calls for stricter processing of sexual-abuse reports and convictions.
Residents in Antwerp on Wednesday held a silent wake for Julie, whose funeral will be held in her hometown of Schilde on May 18.
The Brussels Times