Postcard from... Brussels


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The Independent Online

It was the case that gripped Belgium: a young lord goes missing from his château with just a bullet casing and trail of blood hinting at his fate. Fifteen days later, the body of Stijn Saelens is found in the woods nearby, and the case dubbed “Murder at the Castle” becomes a national talking point.

But for all the intrigue and media speculation, prosecutors have yet to bring anyone to trial. Investigations have focused on Saelens’ father-in-law and brother-in-law, who were reported to be unhappy with Saelens’ plans to move his family and re-start his life as an organic farmer in Australia. The theory was that contract killers were hired to shoot Saelens, but the man police suspected of pulling the trigger – a Dutch national, Anton van Bommel – died of cancer soon after the murder.

Now an arrest in the Netherlands has brought investigators a step closer to solving the case. A test last week revealed that DNA from the unnamed suspect arrested last month matched samples from the castle, and the Belgians are now seeking to extradite the suspect. It would be the final missing piece of the puzzle, with all parities hoping the suspect can reveal who ordered the hit.