Almost two weeks after lawyer Claudia Van Der Stichelen (58) was shot dead at her home in Sint-Lievens-Houtem, the court is interrogating a suspect. The editorial staff of HLN heard this and has now been confirmed by the public prosecutor’s office. But that doesn’t mean you can suddenly breathe a sigh of relief.
Axel Bimbenet, Frank Eeckhout, Dylan Vermeulen, Bjorn Maeckelbergh
Read everything we know now about the lawyer murder in our file.
Claudia Van Der Stichelen was murdered at her villa in Sint-Lievens-Houtem on Saturday, October 28. A man shot her and also opened fire on her 22-year-old son, who tried to intervene. Fortunately, he was ‘only’ injured and was allowed to leave the hospital after a few operations.
A manhunt was conducted with all our might — and a helicopter — but without results. And even in the days after the murder, the perpetrator turned out to be untraceable. All that was certain was that it was a man wearing green and blue overalls, a backpack and boots. A robot photo was taken based on testimonies, but it did not provide any useful tips.
The entire legal profession will breathe a sigh of relief if this actually turns out to be the perpetrator
Ann Van de Steen, lawyer
A suspect was finally arrested on Wednesday. Annelies Verstraete of the East Flanders public prosecutor’s office confirms this. However, who it is and what his motive is remains unclear. The man would be suspected of murder and attempted murder.
“I have been through enough assize trials to know how difficult it is for relatives when the perpetrator is not found,” responds lawyer Ann Van de Steen, who knew Claudia well. “So I hope that the man who has now been arrested is actually the perpetrator. Just think of the suffering that the families of the victims of the Gang of Nivelles had to endure…”
Wake up call
“We won’t get Claudia back,” Van de Steen continues. “But for her family this will be the next step in the grieving process. On the other hand, if it is not the perpetrator, you cannot rest assured until he or she is arrested. This has been a wake-up call for all lawyers. And the entire legal profession will breathe a sigh of relief if the perpetrator turns out to be in custody. We all have to deal with aggressive clients. If such a perpetrator were to get away with such facts, the image would arise that you could really do something to lawyers with impunity.”
Minister of Justice Paul Van Tigchelt (Open Vld) has also responded to X: “Lawyers are the guardians of our rights and freedoms. They must be able to work safely and independently at all times. May justice be done.”
RECONSTRUCTION. Suddenly shots rang out at the front door. A little later, Claudia Van der Stichelen (58) died next to her seriously injured son. And the perpetrator? Without a trace (+)
Still no trace of perpetrator in lawyer murder file: investigators search Claudia Van Der Stichelen’s computers (58) for ultimate tip (+)
ANALYSIS. “Shooting and shooting again, in broad daylight: that looks like a settlement” (+)
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