A man suspected of involvement in the killing of an 11-year-old Dutch boy 20 years ago has been detained in Spain following an appeal to the public for help tracking him down, police said.

Dutch police said in a written statement that the suspect, 55-year-old Jos Brech, was detained on Sunday afternoon and is being held in a Spanish police cell pending his transfer to the Netherlands.

Police distributed photos of Brech on Wednesday, saying that his DNA matches samples taken from the clothes of the boy, Nicky Verstappen.

About a day after Verstappen went missing while at a summer camp in 1998, Brech was stopped by military police close to the scene but was not considered a suspect.

Family members reported Brech missing in April.

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Press Association