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article imageSpain hands over suspect in 1998 murder of Dutch boy

By AFP     Sep 6, 2018 in Crime

A suspect in the brutal killing of a Dutch boy arrived in the Netherlands on Thursday after being handed over by Spain following an extensive manhunt lasting nearly two decades, prosecutors said.

Suspect Jos Brech was arrested in Spain last month over the murder of 11-year-old Nicky Verstappen, who disappeared during the night while at a summer camp in 1998.

Dutch detectives said in August that they had identified Brech by a DNA match and were searching for him after he had been reported missing several months earlier.

"On Thursday 6 September 2018, Jos B., suspected of involvement in the death of Nicky Verstappen, was surrendered to the Netherlands by the Spanish authorities," the Dutch prosecution service said in a statement.

"Upon arrival in our country, he was arrested again by the police on suspicion of a crime against life, a sexual offence and a crime against personal freedom."

Brech was taken into pre-trial detention for two weeks and will appear before an examining magistrates within 24 hours, it said.

In a crime that horrified the Netherlands, Verstappen was at a summer camp at the Brunssumerheide nature reserve, near the German border, when he vanished on August 9, 1998.

His body was found the next evening, close to the camp site.

Police at the time of the murder mounted a massive search closely followed by local media and the Dutch public but the killer was never found.

As time ran out to catch the suspect, police earlier this year appealed to more than 20,000 men to donate DNA samples in a bid to close in on the perpetrator.

Police said new digital techniques helped them to develop a DNA profile in 2008, from traces found on Verstappen's clothing, but there had been no match.

Brech, who was 35 at the time of the murder, was not among the volunteers but as he was previously interviewed as a witness, police became suspicious.

When his family reported him as missing, Dutch and French police searched his cabin in the Vosges region of France.

Traces of DNA on his belongings provided a match and a European-wide warrant for his arrest was issued on June 12.

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