Suspect in 1998 murder of Dutch boy appears in court in Spain

Suspect in 1998 murder of Dutch boy appears in court in Spain

Yet when one person of special interest - Jos Brech, a 55-year-old Dutchman who had been missing since April - failed to show up for obligatory sampling this year, investigators dug deeper.

The main suspect in the slaying of an 11-year-old Dutch boy 20 years ago has agreed to be extradited from Spain to The Netherlands, where he is being sought for murder and sexual aggression, among other charges, Spanish authorities said Monday.

Brech was arrested "thanks to a witness who recognised him after seeing his picture in the media in recent days", according to a Dutch police statement issued late Sunday.

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

Jos Brech, 55, was arrested in connection with the cold case.

Police at the time of the murder mounted a massive search closely followed by local media and the Dutch public, but the 11-year-old boy's killer was never found.

Nicky Verstappen, 11, vanished at summer camp in 1998.

When Brech - said to be a survival expert who could hide out in remote locations - disappeared from the country without saying a word to his family or friends an global arrest warrant was issued.

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Originally Dutch and French police thought he may have been hiding out in the Vosges region where he owns a cabin.

Some 16,000 men living in the area where Verstappen was murdered volunteered to hand over DNA samples.

Police in Spain said in an August 27 release that Brech was an expert in "solitary survival in shelters or even caves", and was wanted for sexual assault and murder.

None of those who gave samples were suspects but the search could be narrowed by comparing the samples and determining if a relative of the donor was a match. Brech was found after a tip by a man who said he had spoken to Brech several times and recognized him from photographs broadcast on television. The boy had been raped and killed, police said, in a case that would haunt the nation in the decades to come. "It's a sort of commune where I had lived for ages too", the man told the Telegraaf newspaper.

"We got him! Jos Brech was arrested in Spain near Barcelona!" journalist Peter Vries, spokesman for the dead boy's family, exclaimed on Twitter.

His body was discovered near a Christmas tree plot just over half a mile (1km) from the campsite the following day.

'The family is very relieved.

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