Belgium’s oldest female murderer loses appeal, sentenced to 10 years
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Belgium’s oldest female murderer loses appeal, sentenced to 10 years

The Cassation Court in Brussels. © Johan Pafenois/Wikimedia

Clara Maes, the oldest woman ever to stand trial before a jury in Belgium, has lost her appeal against a murder verdict handed down last October.

Maes, aged 89, was sentenced by a court in Arlon in Luxembourg province to ten years for the murder of her friend Suzanne Thibeau at the age of 93.

After hearing her sentence and her lawyer announcing the intention to appeal, Maes was taken by bus to the care home where she resides, rather than go immediately to prison. The question remains as to where she will go now that the sentence is confirmed.

Suzanne Thibeau was found dead in her kitchen in Libramont in January 2015, apparently killed by blunt-force trauma to the head. She also had a wound on her neck caused by a sharp object.

On the counter lay a broken flower-pot, and in the kitchen drawer a bloodstained knife.

The last person to have seen her that morning was Clara Maes, her friend and home help, who also happened to be the main beneficiary of her will.

At trial, the jury said it had been convinced by DNA evidence and the fact that Maes knew all about Thibeau’s financial affairs. Maes herself never admitted the killing.

The case went to the Cassation Court in Brussels, which only hears cases based on legalities and procedural matters. Her appeal was refused.

So far, Maes has not served a day in prison. She was excused remand awaiting trial on the grounds of her advanced age and ill health, and she has remained out of jail awaiting her appeal.

If she is finally ordered to report to prison, it will be the facility at Marche-en-Famenne, which last October – around the time of the trial – suffered an outbreak of Covid-19.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times