Jos Brech, the survivalist suspected of killing 11-year-old Nicky Verstappen 20 years ago, is facing charges of manslaughter rather than murder, local paper De Limburger said on Friday.
The paper says court officials feel there is not enough evidence to convict Brech of deliberately setting out to kill Nicky and have called on the public prosecution department to soften the charge.
Manslaughter carries a maximum of 15 years in jail while people found guilty of murder can be sentenced to life imprisonment.
Journalist Peter R de Vries, who has supported the family in their efforts to find out what happened to their son, told the Telegraaf they were expecting this.
‘It was pretty obvious from the start that murder could not be proved,’ he said. ‘It is the same with all cold cases. Manslaughter is the highest charge that can be brought unless, of course, the suspect confesses.’
Brech was arrested in Spain on August 26, just a few days after police announced that his DNA had been found on the boy’s body.
Nicky Verstappen was taken from his tent while at summer camp in August 1998. His body was found the next day but his killer has never been identified.
A cold case team started re-investigating the murder five years ago and now new techniques allowed scientists to identify dna found on Nicky’s body and clothes.
Update: Brech’s laywer Gerald Roethof said on Friday evening that his client had not carried out the crime. He did not abuse the boy, kidnap him or kill him, Roethof said, but declined to give further details ‘until the time is right’.
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