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CRIME

Caretaker strangled Danish girl as she slept in Madrid flat

Prosecutors called for 28 years for a Belgian man accused of the murder of a Danish woman in Madrid as the trial got underway on Monday.

Caretaker strangled Danish girl as she slept in Madrid flat
Dave Verbist (inset) is accused of murdering Ane Strande Jensen. Photo: Facebook

Dave Verbist, 35, from Belgium, pleaded guilty to the murder of Ane Strande Jensen on June 13th 2014 and gave a full confession to the court.

He described how he entered the 27-year-old’s tourist apartment, crept into her bedroom and strangled her with the cable of a charger while she slept.

But he said he had “no idea why I did it. I am angry with myself.”

Strande had arrived in Madrid only 11 days earlier to take up a job with the Scandinavian Tobacco Group and was renting a fully-furnished holiday apartment while she searched for her own more permanent accommodation.

Verbist had the keys to the apartment because he worked as an occasional caretaker for the rental agents and he had let himself into the property during the night.

The court heard how Strande had returned to the flat in Calle Barcelona in the Huertas district of Madrid around midnight and had a Skype conversation with her boyfriend before turning in.

 

Around 6.30am, emergency services were called with a report that there was a fire on the premises. Her charred corpse was discovered in the bedroom.

A post-mortem revealed that she had not died in the fire but had been strangled before being burnt.

Verbist later confessed to police that after he had killed her with the telephone charger he had gone into the kitchen, found a bottle of cooking oil, and doused her dead body before setting it alight.

 A fingerprint at the scene had matched his and he was arrested several days later in a pub in the city.

On questioning he gave a full account of the murder and also took investigators by surprise with the revelation that he had also killed a woman in Girona two years before.

Montse Méndez had been missing without trace since October 23rd 2014. But Verbist told police he had suffocated her by accident while having sex with her when he was high on a mix of drink and cocaine.

Then, in a panic, he phoned a friend who advised him to get rid of the body.

He then cut her up into eight parts and disposed of each one in bags placed in different rubbish bins outside the Catalan city.

He said that since then he had been consumed by guilt and turned to drugs and alcohol.

He admitted that he had drunk several pints and consumed half a gram of cocaine before going to Stande’s flat.

The case continues.

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CRIME

Spain church attack suspect was ‘flagged for deportation’

The man alleged to have stormed two Spanish churches with a machete, killing a verger and seriously wounding a priest, was slated for deportation but had no prior convictions, officials said Thursday.

Spain church attack suspect was 'flagged for deportation'

The bloodshed, which took place on Wednesday evening in the southern port
city of Algeciras, shocked Spain and left locals reeling.

The alleged attacker was arrested at the scene and police raided his home in the early hours of Thursday as prosecutors pressed ahead with a terror probe.

At midday, hundreds gathered outside Nuestra Señora de La Palma church where the verger was killed for a minute’s silence with many of those present breaking down in tears, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.

Among them was Juan José Marina, La Palma’s parish priest who was not there
when the attack occurred that claimed the life of his verger, Diego Valencia.

“If I am alive, it’s because Diego died instead of me. I was supposed to be there,” he said, welling up with tears. At the time, he was conducting a service elsewhere.

The suspect, who was identified by a police source as a 25-year-old Moroccan, had “no prior criminal or terrorism convictions in Spain or allied countries” and was not under surveillance, an interior ministry spokesman said.

Although a deportation procedure was “opened in June”, it was not implemented immediately because it was an administrative procedure, he said.

Local media said he lived near the churches which are just 300 metres apart.

Although Spain’s top criminal court opened a terror investigation, the government has so far not qualified the nature of the attack.

Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said it was not yet possible to say whether the incident was of a “terrorist nature” but confirmed there were “no third parties involved”. 

Chased the victim into the street

The suspect, seen in police footage with a beard and wearing a black, white
and grey hoodie, entered the church of San Isidro in Algeciras just after 7:00
pm, “where, armed with a machete, he attacked the priest, leaving him seriously wounded,” the interior ministry said.

“Subsequently, he entered the church of Nuestra Señora de La Palma in which, after causing damage, he attacked the verger.”

The verger “managed to get out of the church, but was caught by the attacker outside and sustained mortal injuries,” it said.

Witnesses told local media the assailant ran into the church shouting and had started throwing icons, crosses and candles to the floor.

A police source confirmed he had “shouted something” and was wearing a long
robe when he burst into the two churches in the town of some 120,000 residents.

The priest, 74-year-old Antonio Rodríguez, sustained injuries to the neck while he was celebrating the Eucharist at San Isidro church, his parish said, describing his condition as “serious but stable”.


Grief, tears for murdered verger

Outside the church, mourners had laid flowers and lit candles in memory of a man who was a well-known figure within the local Catholic community.

At noon, several hundred people gathered in the square as the church bells rang out followed by a minute’s silence, an AFP correspondent said.

Many in the crowd were visibly moved, among them family members, police officers, town council employees and several veiled women, who couldn’t hold
back their tears.

“This is for you, Diego!” one shouted emotionally, the square breaking into
applause.

‘Always lived together peacefully’

“In Algeciras, we’ve always boasted about the fact that we have people from 129 different nationalities living together in peace and harmony and we’ve never had any incident nor tension,” Mayor José Ignacio Landaluce told TeleMadrid TV before the rally.

“What has happened now is more than we can take in, it grieves us and worries us because when a fuse like this is lit, it has to be put out quickly to prevent it from causing damage that nobody wants.”

His words were echoed by Marina, the parish priest, who told public radio that ties “with the Islamic world in Algeciras are good, we’ve never had any sort of problem”.

“It just defies all logic,” local Muslim community spokesman Dris Mohamed Amar told the same programme, saying he hoped “it was an isolated case by a demented lunatic and not something premeditated”.

César García Magán, who heads the Episcopal Conference grouping Spain’s leading bishops, described the attack as “reprehensible, unjustifiable and abhorrent”, but warned against “the danger of demonising certain groups”.

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