Europe’s most wanted couple arrested in Ivory Coast after 23 years on the run

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Two of the EU’s most wanted criminals have been arrested in Abidjan Ivory Coast, after 23 years on the run from Belgium, where they were given life terms in absentia for murdering a British businessman, BBC reported.

French citizen, Jean-Claude Lacote, and his partner Hilde van Acker were declared wanted since 1996 for the murder of British businessman.

They had reportedly lived for years in South Africa before fleeing again.

The 53-year-old and his 56-year-old wife were each sentenced to life in their absence for the killing of Marcus Mitchell, who was shot twice in the head and neck in Belgium. Mtchell was shot in a forest in the Belgian coastal town of De Haan on 23 May 1996, according to the report.

The pair, listed on Europol’s most wanted list, fled Belgium in the aftermath of the murder only to resurface two decades later in the African country.

“The two were arrested in Abidjan. Lacote on Wednesday night and Van Acker on Thursday morning,” Brussels prosecutors spokesman Celine D’Have told AFP.

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After fleeing Europe, initially for Brazil, Lacote reportedly landed in South Africa where he even launched a TV career, hosting 10 episodes of a reality crime program Duty Calls, according to a 2016 report in Britain’s Independent daily.

Belgian prosecutors said they will seek their extradition. Police Commissioner Martin Van Steenbrugge told Belgian media that he had been hunting Van Acker for most of his career but that the arrests were especially good news for Marcus Mitchell’s widow.

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