Dutch man convicted of killing Belgian man missing since 2013 in robbery gone wrong
Eduard F., a 51-year-old from Etten-Leur, was convicted in the murder of Belgian 27-year-old Jelle Leemans, whose body has never been found. The court was convinced that Leemans was murdered as part of a robbery attempt, and sentenced F. to 17 years in prison on Tuesday.
The Belgian man from Rumst disappeared on November 21, 2013. Despite various public appeals on the television program Opsporing Verzoeken, and several major searches by the police, Leemans has never been found alive or dead. Eduard F. said that he made a drug deal with Leemans that day in Rucphen, but he has always denied that he killed Leemans.
The court said it believed Leemans wanted to buy 10 kilograms of cannabis from F., and that the suspect wanted to steal Leemans' money. The situation got completely out of hand, the court maintained, and F. likely killed the Belgian. Leemans would have been at the meeting in the Rucphen Forrest with anywhere from 30,000 to 40,000 euros in his pocket.
Prosecutors had recommended 15 years in prison for F. The court felt that this did not do justice to the fact that F. killed Leemans, but has also "hidden his body and still keeps it hidden.”
The court explained in detail in its ruling that there are absolutely no indications that Leemans is still alive or that he has voluntarily disappeared. The court talked about the “lust for life” that Leemans had.
"The relationships with his parents and sisters were good. He was social, had many acquaintances and good friends. He lived with his girlfriend. He was renovating his house, was healthy, had no depression or other mental illness. There were also no indications of financial problems."
The evidence that F. committed the murder mainly came from camera images showing F. returning Leemans' car to Merksem, near Antwerp. In addition, F.'s DNA was found on the gearshift and seat belt in Leemans' car. Finally, Leemans' blood was found on the upholstery of F.'s car.
F.'s lawyer said he will immediately appeal against the conviction.
Reporting by ANP