Former MP and his wife given 23-year sentence for “cold-blooded murder”

The former member of the Flemish Parliament Christian Van Eyken (Francophone Union) and his wife Sylvia B. have each been sentenced to 23 years’ imprisonment for the murder of her former husband Marc Dellea. When sentencing the trial judge spoke of the murder having taken place “in cold blood” and it having been “a cowardly act”. Both Mr Van Eyken and his wife denied having had anything to do with Mr Dellea’s murder.      

Mr Dellea and Sylvia B. were about to divorce when Mr Dellea’s body was found in his flat in the Laken district of Brussels. He had been shot in the head.

At first Mr Van Eyken’s now wife was detained in connection with her then husband’s death. However, it soon became clear that not only was she involved in divorce proceeding, but she also had a relationship with Mr Van Eyken.

As the investigation went on detectives found CCTV images that showed Mr Van Eyken and Sylvia B. entered the flat where Mr Dellea’s body was found. There were the last people to have seen Mr Dellea alive.  

A long drawn-out procedure

As a member of the Flemish Parliament, Mr Van Eyken enjoyed parliamentary immunity from prosecution. This immunity could only be lifted if the Flemish Parliament voted to do so.

In January 2016 Mr Van Eyken was arrested on suspicion of murder. However, he was a free man again just a day later as the warrant for his arrest had not been signed by an Examining Magistrate. This procedural error allowed Mr Van Eyken to await his trial as a free man.    

In December 2017, three years after the murder, the trial should have started. However, it was postponed as defence lawyers had found technical issues with some of the evidence. They had been unable to listen to recording of tapped telephone conversations and video images of their clients as said that as a result of this they were unable to defend them properly. The case was postponed until 5 March 2018.   

However, in the meantime the issues had not been resolved. Defence lawyers also said that the case should be heard by the Court of Assize and not by the Criminal Court. The trial was delayed once more this time until 12 November 2018. It eventually started in June of this year.  

The Public Prosecutor requested prison sentences of 25 years for both Mr Van Eyken and the woman that was by now his wife. The trial judge issued sentences of 23 years to each of the defenced and ordered their immediate detention.   

Mr Van Eyken and his wife can still appeal if they so wish and it is likely that they are to do so.