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Nicky Verstappen: Dutch court jails man for 16 years over 1998 child killing

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Nicky Verstappen's body was found in the southern Netherlands in 1998.
Nicky Verstappen's body was found in the southern Netherlands in 1998.   -   Copyright  ANP / DUTCH POLICE / AFP

A Dutch appeals court has sentenced a man to 16 years in prison for kidnapping, sexually abusing and killing an 11-year-old boy.

Jos Brech was convicted of manslaughter, abduction and sexual assault and had his sentence increased on Friday.

He was first found guilty in November 2020 and sentenced to 12-and-a-half years, although the court acquitted Brech of deliberately killing Nicky Verstappen. Both Brech and prosecutors had appealed the verdict.

The appeals court in Den Bosch upheld his conviction and said that by grabbing Verstappen and covering his mouth while abusing him, Brech accepted the possibility the boy could die.

Verstappen’s mother -- sitting between her daughter and husband -- wept in court as the judgment was read.

The case of Nicky Verstappen has long gripped the Netherlands and led to the country's largest-ever DNA search.

The 11-year-old disappeared while on a youth summer camp in the southern Dutch province of Limburg in August 1998. His dead body was found one day later.

The case remained unsolved for 23 years and led police to carry out DNA tests on around 21,500 men in 2018 in an attempt to identify a suspect.

Brech -- an outdoor survival expert -- was arrested in Spain in August 2018 after his DNA was identified on Verstappen’s clothes.

Dutch journalist Peter R. de Vries -- who was gunned down in Amsterdam last year -- had for years helped Verstappen’s parents in their search for justice. De Vries’ son also sat next to the family in court on Friday.

Brech has always claimed that he found the boy dead and can appeal the court's judgment to the Dutch Supreme Court

The 59-year-old was also convicted on a separate child pornography charge.