1,600 people attend the funeral of Julie Van Espen

The funeral has taken place of Julie Van Espen. The 23-year-old  student was murdered two weeks ago today as she was on her way to meet friends in Antwerp. Her body was found two  days later on Monday 6 May in the Albert Canal in the Antwerp district of Merksem. The funeral service at the church of Our Lady of the Assumption was conducted by the Bishop of Antwerp Johan Bonny. As well as the mourners that gathered inside the church, several hundred others gathered on the square outside the church to follow the funeral service and pay their respects to the murdered student.     

 

 

Loudspeakers ensured that those that had assembled on the square were able to follow the service. They included pupils of the Vita et Pax school in Schoten (Antwerp province) of which Julie Van Espen was a former pupil. They walked from the school to the church. Members of the KSK ’s-Gravenswezel football club where Julie Van Espen used to play football were also in attendance. All those that followed the funeral service outside on the square were given the opportunity to sign a book of condolence.   

Julie Van Espen’s family and friends were able to follow the service in the packed parish church. Julie’s father said that his daughter was like a ray of sunshine.

"We want to continue your social engagement, because your death may not be pointless”.

Her sister, brother and boyfriend said that Julie was full of energy and enjoyed life to the full, but always thought of others.  

"This world has lost its most beautiful treasure”, Julie’s boyfriend said.    

At the family’s request, journalists, cameramen and photographs were not allowed into the church. Politicians were also asked not to attend the funeral.

23-year-old Julie Van Espen disappeared on 4 May. He body was found two days later. Steve Bakelmans, a suspect first identified thanks to CCTV has since admitted to having killed the 23-year-old. She was killed as she resisted Steve Bakelmans’, who has two previous convictions for rape, attempts to sexually abuse her.    

Last Sunday 15,000 people took part in a silent march against sexual violence in Antwerp.