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Nicky Verstappen: Suspect held over Dutch boy’s 1998 death

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Netherlands Police

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Nicky Verstappen was found dead in the forest on a summer camp trip

Dutch police investigating the disappearance and death of schoolboy Nicky Verstappen in 1998 say their prime suspect has been arrested in Spain.

Jos Brech was identified as a suspect after the Netherlands’ biggest ever DNA harvesting operation, which included his relatives.

It gave police a vital clue linking him to DNA on Nicky Verstappen’s clothes.

Extradition proceedings for the former scout master are under way.

“Jos B, 55, a suspect in the death of Nicky Verstappen was arrested in Spain on Sunday afternoon. He was taken into custody and will be handed over to the Netherlands,” said a statement from police in Limburg, the southern Dutch province where the boy disappeared.

The arrest follows a public appeal last week, during which detectives shared photographs of the suspect. A witness recognized the man in the photos and sent a tip-off to police.

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Netherlands Police

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Jos Brech is seen here in police handout photos

Nicky, then aged 11, was at a summer camp in August 1998 when he vanished from his tent. His body was discovered in the forest the following day.

Jos Brech, who lived nearby, disappeared earlier this year, following the largest DNA testing project ever in the Netherlands.

One of the only pieces of evidence in the case was foreign DNA discovered on Nicky’s clothing.

More than 14,000 men voluntarily gave DNA samples to the investigation – none of whom were suspects.

But by comparing the samples, it could be determined if a relative of the donor was a match, narrowing the search.

Mr Brech did not participate in the call for voluntary DNA samples, Dutch broadcaster NOS reported.

He was recorded as having passed the scene of the crime back in 1998, NOS said, walking by a few days later shortly after midnight. He was stopped by police and later interviewed, but had been thought to be an innocent passer-by.

After he was reported missing in April this year, police examining his home discovered he is a 100% match for the DNA found on Nicky’s body.

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