Belgians accused of murder near extradition

Published July 10, 1998|Updated Sept. 13, 2005

(ran SS edition of METRO & STATE)

It took years for Belgian prosecutors to put together the pieces and decide they were dealing with two murders rather than two fatal car accidents.

But it will take more time to prosecute Belgian Aurore Martin, 28, and her German lover, Uwe Peter Schmidt, 27, on murder, manslaughter and conspiracy charges carrying possible life prison sentences in the deaths of their spouses.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Brown ruled the couple nicknamed "The Diabolical Lovers" can be extradited but issued a 10-day stay Wednesday to allow time to file a habeas corpus petition in U.S. District Court.

Ms. Martin, 28, wore a pained expression for much of the hearing and broke into tears talking with her lawyer afterward. Schmidt, 27, showed no reaction.

In a partial victory for Ms. Martin, Brown threw out charges against her in the death of Schmidt's wife, ruling Belgian extradition papers lacked probable cause to tie her to a crime in that case.

Martin and Schmidt met in 1991, and the first mysterious death came the following year when Schmidt said his wife of five months, Ursula Deschamps, died when their car fell into a canal in Mons, Belgium.

Schmidt pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and was placed on probation but collected $500,000 in insurance money.

Ms. Martin met her future husband, Marc Van Beers, through a marriage agency. He died on their Corsican honeymoon May 11, 1995, and she collected $800,000 in insurance and money from the sale of their house.

Prosecutors contend Schmidt and three men beat Van Beers to death with a baseball bat, before his body was found in the surf.