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CRIME

Dutch police close in on murder suspect hiding in French mountains

Dutch detectives said Wednesday they have identified a suspect in the brutal murder of a young boy two decades ago, in a case that has gripped the Netherlands. He is thought to be hiding in France's mountainous eastern Vosges region.

Dutch police close in on murder suspect hiding in French mountains
Nicky Verstappen's body was found on August 11 1998, a day after he disappeared from a youth camp in southern Limburg province. He had been sexually abused before he was killed.
   
Police at the time mounted a massive search closely followed by local media and the Dutch public, but the 11-year-old boy's killer was never found.
 
As time ran out to catch the suspect, police earlier this year appealed to more than 20,000 men to donate DNA samples in a bid to close in on the perpetrator.
   
“New investigative techniques gave us new opportunities. We now have a one-on-one DNA match with the (DNA) traces found on Verstappen's body,” police 
detective Ferdinand Schellinkhout told a press conference in the southern city of Maastricht on Wednesday.
 
A DNA sample is taken on August 22, 2018 from Landgraaf mayor Raymond Vlecken. Photo: AFP  
 
“We are looking for Jos Brech, 55. He was last seen in France.”
 
Dutch and French police believe that Brech — who was interviewed at the time of the crime as a witness — is hiding somewhere in France's mountainous 
eastern Vosges region, where he owns a chalet.
 
His family reported him missing in April after the former scout worker, who is believed to be a survival expert, told them he was going for a walk in the mountains, Schellinkhout said.
 
'Gone in to hiding' 
 
“We are convinced that the suspect has gone into hiding,” Limburg police chief Ingrid Schaefer-Poels told journalists, asking the public to contact police with any information of his whereabouts.
 
Wednesday's announcement brings Verstappen's family one step closer to what happened to Nicky the night he disappeared, in what became one of the most 
extensive murder investigations to date in the Netherlands.
 
Police said new digital techniques helped them to develop a DNA profile in 2008, from traces found on Verstappen's clothing, but there had been no match.
 
Photo: AFP
   
Earlier this year, some 16,000 men living in the area where Verstappen was murdered volunteered to hand over DNA samples after a call by detectives.
   
However, Brech who was 35 at the time, was not among the volunteers but as he was previously interviewed as a witness, police became suspicious.
   
When his family reported him as missing, Dutch and French police searched his cabin in the Vosges region.
   
“We found traces of DNA on his personal belongings. It was a match,” said chief prosecutor Jan Eland.
   
A European-wide warrant for Brech's arrest was issued on June 12.

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CRIME

Pensioner held over murder on French nudist beach

A 75-year-old man has been arrested in France over a murder on a well-known nudist beach outside the southeastern city of Lyon, prosecutors said.

Pensioner held over murder on French nudist beach

The victim, aged 46, was killed on Saturday at the La Mama beach on a lake in the Lyon suburb of Miribel, regional prosecutors said.

The 75-year-old is suspected of shooting the victim multiple times in the bushes nearby following a dispute that arose after the younger man allegedly exposed himself in front of a woman, they added.

The regional daily Le Progres said that the suspect is a member of a shooting club and legally possesses a calibre 22 rifle. The victim was known to the police, it said.

The Le Parisien daily added that according to its information the victim had been a cause of trouble on the beach all Saturday morning with tensions rising to a peak when he began to masturbate in front of a woman.

An altercation ensued at which point the septuagenarian reached for his gun.

Le Progres said that at the peak of the summer season the beach — well known to Lyon’s inhabitants — was operating as normal on Sunday.

Participants in the World Naked Bike Ride France arrived even as police carried out investigations and images showed naked bathers enjoying the hot weather.

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