A Dutchman who was one of the first names listed on Belgium’s Most Wanted list has been arrested in Germany after ten years on the run.
Eric De Cocq van Delwijnen had been sentenced by a court in Ghent to 15 years in prison for attempted murder when he went missing in 2011, five years before the Belgian federal police even started their Most Wanted list of fugitive serious criminals.
Since then, the Fugitive Active Research Team (FAST) of the federal police have made 18 successful arrests of names on the list, but still De Cocq van Delwijnen remained at large.
An old trick from the movies may explain his prolonged absence from justice. Reports suggest he may have undergone plastic surgery to alter his appearance, at least according to an anonymous letter sent to police soon after he disappeared.
That has not been verified since his arrest, but in any case, fugitives are rarely tracked down on the basis of their facial features alone.
However crafty his life on the run may have been, his crime was of the most brutish sort.
In February 2007, a hooligan named Andy Dobbelaere was leaving a pole-dancing club in Assenede in East Flanders when he was attacked by a man wielding a car jack and beaten about the head.
According to the man’s girlfriend, De Cocq van Delwijnen was responsible.
Despite police searches, the Dutchman remained untraceable. In 2011, he was sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison for attempted murder, and an international arrest warrant was issued.
In the decade since, police have received reports of his presence in Spain, Czech Republic and Germany. There was even talk that he had returned to the Netherlands. An anonymous letter suggested he had fled to America.
In the end, Thursday saw an end to the man’s flight, in Löbau, a city between Dresden and the Polish and Czech borders.