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Lovers face murder charges, again

By CAROL TIEGAN

BRUSSELS, Sept. 12 -- Accused of killing her husband for insurance money, a woman and her lover now face murder charges before a court in Belgium.

Known in Belgium as "the diabolical lovers," Aurore Martin and her German lover Peter Uwe Schmitt, are accused of murdering Aurore's husband, Marc Van Beers, in May 1995, during their honeymoon in Corsica. Aurore and Peter had planned on collecting Van Beers's life insurance.

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Martin and Van Beers, a fiscal analyst, had met via a matrimonial agency and took off for Corsica in 1995 on their honeymoon.

Martin, 32, wept through the interrogation; claiming she no longer remembered details of the crime. "I've been considered guilty from the very start," she told Judge Luc Maes.

Schmitt, on the other hand, was cold as ice, answering every question precisely and meticulously.

Schmitt had already been acquitted once before, for the murder of his wife, Ursula Dechamps, in an accident in 1992 similar to the one that killed Van Beers.

Peter's wife drowned after his car plunged into a canal in Charleroi, Belgium. He survived.

Van Beers also died in an accident. He drove off a ravine after having lost control of his car while trying to avoid an animal crossing the road. Martin survived.

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Both accused pretended they met in February 1993 and broke up in February 1994, before the dramatic events. They say they only got back together after Martin's husband died.

"Aurore wanted a family and children," Schmitt said in court. "I wasn't ready for that yet. All I wanted was to live under the sun."

Schmitt can't be put on trial anymore for the death of his wife, but can be accused of complicity in Van Beers's murder.

Martin collected more than $425,000 (20 million Belgian francs) in life insurance policies. She and Schmitt then moved to Miami, Florida, to escape further inquiries.

Van Beers' body was later dug up to determine the cause of death. And on April 1, 1997, an international warrant was issued for their arrest.

They were arrested in Miami by FBI agents, and sent to Belgium. They have been in prison since then, waiting for the trial, which started on Monday.

The verdict is expected in next 15 days.

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