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Julie Van Espen’s suspected murderer appears in court

© Belga

Steve Bakelmans (39), suspected of murdering Antwerp student Julie Van Espen last May, appeared in front of the Antwerp court in chambers on Thursday.

The public prosecutor’s office announced his detention will be extended by two months.

On May 4, the day of Julie Van Espen’s disappearance, the young 23-year-old woman was going on her bike from the commune of Schilde to meet up with some female friends in Antwerp.

The following day, Van Espen’s bicycle basket as well as blood-stained clothes were found near the Albert canal where her mobile phone was last used. Her body was finally discovered on May 6 in the Albert canal at Merksem, between Schilde and Antwerp.

Police arrested Bakelmans the same day. He was caught on film showing him in the street holding Julie Van Espen’s bicycle basket. Steve Bakelmans has since admitted wanting to rape the young woman and killing her because she had put up a strong fight.

Bakelmans had previously already been convicted on several counts, among others rape. The defendant was free and awaiting another trial when the crime was committed.

The Superior Council of Justice (CSJ) found various irregularities in the handling of Bakelmans’ case, as much in the lower court as in front of the appeal court.

The Brussels Times

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