Fugitive couple who hid in SA for years finally arrested in Ivory Coast
Europe’s most wanted fugitive couple, Jean-Claude Lacote, 53, and his partner Hilde van Acker, 56, were arrested in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, this week for the 1996 murder of a British businessman in Belgium.
On May 23, 1996, Marcus Mitchell, 44, was shot in the head and neck in a forest in De Haan, Belgium. His body was found by school children.
And for over 20 years, Interpol posted wanted (Red) notices for the couple, who managed to escape capture by authorities across countries and continents.
The couple were initially arrested for the crime but released due to lack of evidence.
It is believed that they then fled to Brazil and soon after that moved to South Africa.
In the country, Lacote reinvented himself as a television producer and his company produced a local reality crime series called Duty Calls, in 2001.
In July 2006, the Belgian government issued two arrest warrants for Lacote and Van Acker for alleged fraud and money laundering.
A year later, Lacote was arrested and charged with allegedly defrauding Irish shipping magnate Noel Hanley who also sought Lacote’s assets of $1.6 million (about R23.5m) to be frozen.
In 2008, Lacote was awaiting trial for the string of fraud charges brought against him when he escaped from Diepkloof Prison in Johannesburg.
Soon after that, he and Van Acker disappeared without a trace.