Cassation again considers file “devil couple” Lacote and Van Acker

Cassation again considers file “devil couple” Lacote and Van Acker

Lacote and Van Acker had applied for an acquittal before the West Flemish court of assizes, but received 30 and 24 years in prison respectively for the 1996 murder. According to the Constitutional Court, however, there was discriminatory treatment.

Businessman killed

The British businessman Marcus Mitchell was already killed in De Haan in 1996, and Lacote and Van Acker were arrested a short time later, but were released after a few months and fled abroad. In December 2011, the couple was sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia by the West Flemish court of assizes, but it was not until November 2019 that they could be arrested in Abidjan. Both defendants appealed, but the jury also found them guilty of murder at their retrial. The judgment did take into account the exceeding of the reasonable term.

Court of Cassation

Both accused then went to the Court of Cassation and argued, among other things, that the West Flemish assize court had decided not to call nine witnesses at the preliminary hearing. Normally an appeal in cassation against such a preliminary ruling is not possible, but the defense of Lacote and Van Acker saw this as a violation of the principle of equality. If a criminal court or a court of appeal rejects a hearing of witnesses in an interlocutory judgment or judgment, an appeal in cassation is possible.

The Court of Cassation submitted the discussion to the Constitutional Court, which ruled that there had indeed been discriminatory treatment. On Tuesday, the Court of Cassation must now decide whether to overturn the convictions of both.