THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- A Dutch appeals court on Friday convicted a man of manslaughter and sentenced him to 16 years imprisonment in the death and sexual abuse of an 11-year-old boy in 1998, in a case that has long gripped the Netherlands.
Jos Brech was first convicted in November 2020 and sentenced to 12-and-a-half years for sexually abusing Nicky Verstappen and depriving him of his liberty leading to his death, but he was acquitted of deliberately killing the boy. Both Brech and prosecutors appealed.
The appeals court in the southern city of Den Bosch upheld the earlier convictions and found Brech guilty of manslaughter, saying 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.
Verstappen disappeared while on a summer camp in the southern Netherlands in August 1998 and was found dead a day later.
Some 20 years later, with the exact circumstances of his death still a mystery, police carried out DNA tests on about 21,500 men in an attempt to identify a suspect. Brech, an outdoor survival expert, was arrested in Spain in August 2018 after it was established that his DNA was on Verstappen’s body.
Campaigning Dutch journalist Peter R. de Vries, who was gunned down in Amsterdam last year, for years helped Verstappen's parents in their search for justice. De Vries' son sat next to the family in court on Friday.
Brech, who can appeal Friday's judgment to the Dutch Supreme Court, also was convicted on a child pornography charge.