Belinda Donnay, a 22-year-old woman charged with torturing and murdering an 18-year-old disabled teen, has acknowledged wrongdoing and expressed her remorse to the victim’s family on a hearing on Monday.
“I feel immense regret — I may have enticed others to commit inhuman and degrading actions, but I did not realize it,” she told attendants at the Liege criminal court.
The hearings resumed on Monday, after a private viewing has held on Thursday of footage of the group’s “unberably cruel” crime, seized by the courts.
Donnay is one of five individuals accused of murdering Valentin Vermeesch, a mentally handicapped acquaintance of the group, by throwing into La Meuse river while he was still alive, after kidnapping and cruelly torturing him for hours.
Valentin’s lifeless body was fished out the river in April 2017, after he had been reported missing for weeks.
Along with fellow defendant Alexandre Hart, Donnay is under particular scrutiny after Hart said she was the one who helped him throw their victim into the river.
During his previous testimony, Hart said he had “insisted” for Donnay to assist him, but in Monday’s hearing, Donnay said that Hart had “ordered her” to come with him after the group realized that what they initially thought was a “prank” had gone wrong.
Both defendants’ testimonies regarding who threw Valentin in the river are currently contradictory, with Donnay insisting that Hart threatened her after their murder, telling her he would “come find her,” after he left prison.
During Monday’s hearing, Donnay acknowledged that her “presence and her failure to react may have encouraged others,” but said it was “not voluntary.”
During last week’s hearings, the defendants’ testimonies revealed chilling details of how the group of five friends had held Valentin captive and physically and verbally abused him for hours before throwing him hand-tied into the river.
Following last week’s viewing, the defendants’ lawyers said they had been “shocked” by the videos.
“I had never seen anything like it — I never imagined something like that,” Donnay’s defence lawyer told Le Soir “It’s chilling.”