Suspect released in Dutch girls' disappearance

Femke Lucas and Sam Bruijs
Femke Lucas and Sam BruijsFemke Lucas / Facebook

The 34-year-old Dutch-Moroccan man arrested in connection with the disappearance of Dutch teens Sam Bruijs and Femke Lucas, was released on Monday, AD reports based on reports in Portuguese media.

The man was arrested on Saturday after being found in the  company of the two missing 16-year-olds from Bergen op Zoom in the Portuguese city of Albufeira. They were found based on a tip to the police. The suspect claimed that he was the one who called the police. But according to the Brabant police, he was arrested precisely because he did not alert the authorities, while he could have known that the two girls were missing - their photos and descriptions were broadly spread througout Spain and Portugal. 

According to the police, te tip that led to finding the girls came from the owner of a hostel where thy stayed on Friday night. Fatima, the owner of RIch and Poor Hostel in the center of Albufeira, confirmed this to the Telegraaf. According to her, the two Dutch teenagers showed up at her hostel late on Friday. 

"They looked like all the other young people we get here: happy, all right and quite normal. They felt like vacation. They were very nice - and well educated. No alarm bells went off for us. They asked if they could stay with us one night", she said to the newspaper. When she sa the girls' age on the identity papers, that surprised her. "Sixteen years! That's very young to be traveling alone. We also knew that all the other hostels were closed. And with us they could at least spend a safe and healthy night." 

Only the next morning did she realize that the grils were being sought, when she saw a post on social media. "We saw that the names match exactly those of the sought for girls. I immediately thought of the parents: Oh my God. They're looking for them! I am also a mother, it is the fear of each parent that your child disappears. We immediately called the Dutch police to inform them."

The Dutch authorities asked that the 34-year-old suspect be extradited to the Netherlands, but according to AD that can no longer happen now that he was released. A spokesperson for the Public Prosecutor told the newspaper that they haven't been informed about the man's release and can therefore not confirm whether it is true. 

The two girls disappeared from Bergen op Zoom on Tuesday. They went to Eindhoven Airport, from where they flew to Malaga in Spain. For days they were no where to be found. On Saturday afternoon they were found in Albufeira with the suspect. They were in good health and were reunited with their parents on Monday. It is unclear why the girls left the Netherlands.