Murder at the Castle: chief suspect maintains his innocence

On Tuesday, somewhat to many people's surprise, two of the main suspects in what has been dubbed the 'Murder at the Castle' case were released. On Wednesday while still under investigation they took the unprecedented step of calling a news conference.

The two suspects are the father-in-law and brother-in-law of Stijn Saelens, the Lord of Wingene Castle, who was murdered. The two suspects are thought to have commissioned Saelens contract killing.

Stijn Saelens disappeared from Wingene Castle in January. His body was recovered from woodland in Aalter a month later. The two relatives who are suspected of commissioning his slaying were released on Tuesday, but have to comply with certain conditions. They have been in detention for six months now. Their release does not change anything to their status as suspects.

On Wednesday the two suspects attended a new conference and read out a prepared statement.

There was enormous media interest for the event. The two suspects were accompanied by their lawyer and refused to answer any questions.

Stijn Saelens father-in-law and brother-in-law say that they decided to make a one-off statement because the case has attracted so much media attention and they now hope that the media will now leave them in peace.

They expressed understanding for the grief of the Saelens family and hope that the full truth will come to light.

Stijn Saelens brother-in-law, who read the statement, was keen to stress that he had no hand in the disappearance and the death of his brother-in-law: "I know the investigation will run its course and am convinced it will show my complete innocence. The past six months have been extremely hard. I could count on the support of my family. It meant a lot for me that my girl-friend stayed by me."

Stijn Saelens brother-in-law continued: "Many things have been said about me and my family that did not correspond with the truth. I didn't have any opportunity to defend myself. I now want to resume my life in all peace and calm as the judge advised me."

Stijn Saelens father-in-law spoke next. He said that his family and the Saelens family had been hit by a tragedy, a fact that he regretted: "In the interest of the investigation I have decided not to make any declaration about the case, even though I would like to respond to the many erroneous reports that have been published about me."

The father-in-law, a general practitioner, spoke of his hopes that he could now resume his life in peace and thanked his wife, family, friends and patients, who had stood by him, despite serious allegations.