Suspect denies killing Dutch boy in 1998

Nicky Verstappen, murdered at age 11 in Brunssum in August 1998 Politie

Jos B., the 56-year-old man suspected of sexually assaulting and killing 11-year-old Nicky Verstappen in Brunssummerheide in 1998, denies having anything to do with the child's death. He did confess to viewing child pornography, but said in court on Wednesday that he downloaded it accidentally, the Telegraaf reports.

B. said in court that he is "very aware of the fact that this is very difficult for the family" and that "there are questions that can not be answered". But he is innocent, he said. "I am not the person who kidnapped Nicky Verstappen, who committed lewd actions with him and I am not the person who robbed Nicky Verstappen of his life. I did not do it." Nicky's parents and sister were also present in the courtroom.

The 56-year-old man confessed to viewing child pornography. He no longer remembers how many images there were and said he downloaded them accidentally.

Nicky Verstappen was found dead during a summer camp in Brunssummerheide in 1998. His death remained unsolved for nearly 20 years, until a large DNA kinship investigation brought B. into the picture earlier this year. B.'s DNA was found on seventeen places on the boy's clothes, according to the newspaper. After an international manhunt, B. was arrested in a remote area in Spain on August 26th. The Public Prosecutor is charging the Simpelveld man with manslaughter, deprivation of freedom, child sex abuse, and the possession of child pornography. 

But according to B.'s lawyer Gerald Roethof, there are multiple other men who could have committed this crime. Ten days after Nicky's death Willem C. was caught sexually abusing a boy in the bushes near where Nicky's body was found. Witnesses said he had been hanging around for a while, the lawyer said. Someone also claimed that his neighbor often hung around Nicky's summer camp and saw a boy that looked like Nicky with a "man in a car full of poo", the lawyer said. "If this kind of information is withheld, you get a distorted picture of my client, and his role", Roethof said.

Roethof also told the court about a man who sent two letters to the police in which he confessed to sexually abusing Nicky Verstappen in a caravan with someone else. According to Roethof, the man confessed during an interrogation in the presence of his lawyer. "That should not be missing from the file."

Nicky's cause of death was never establish. And that he was sexually abused was never conclusively proven. "We can not gamble. You do that in a casino, not in a courtroom", the lawyer said. 

The lawyer also mentioned a number of details about Nicky's death. He talked about "visible bruising", saying that it could have "other causes" than sexual assault. "Cheap toilet paper. Hard stools." Roethof emphasized that no traces of sperm was found, only DNA. About the fact that Nicky's underpants were inside out, Roethof said that the same happened to him once. His wife drew other conclusions. "It does not say anything."

Roethof called for Jos B. to be released from custody, arguing that "the suspicion is not strong enough" for pre-trial detention.