Unclear if suspect of boy's death will be prosecuted in Belgium or Netherlands

Unclear if suspect of boy's death will be prosecuted in Belgium or Netherlands
Dave De Kock and the four-year-old boy Dean. Credit: Belga

Belgian and Dutch prosecutors are expected to meet on Tuesday to determine where Dave De Kock, the suspect in the case of the death of a four-year-old child in the Netherlands, will be prosecuted.

De Kock went missing from Sint-Niklaas in East Flanders with four-year-old Dean Verberckmoes, a Belgian national, on Wednesday last week. Following large-scale searches by the Belgian and Dutch police, De Kock was arrested on Monday afternoon, and the body of the young boy was found later at night, both in the Netherlands.

Although the investigation into the exact events is still ongoing, the fact that events took place in both countries means the Belgian and Dutch prosecutors are meeting to decide where the suspect stands trial, the public prosecutor's office of Zeeland-West Brabant told Belga news agency.

"If De Kock is extradited to Belgium, this will be done on the basis of European Arrest Warrant (EAW)," Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne's spokesperson told The Brussels Times. This is a simplified cross-border judicial surrender procedure that can be implemented for prosecution purposes.

Further investigation needed

The spokesperson explained that further investigation is needed to determine the exact locations of all the events before the Belgian court will ask for his surrender through the EAW.

So far, it is known the suspect was arrested in Meerkerk and the body of the young boy was found in Vrouwenpolder, both in Zeeland, but a 1.5-hour drive from each other. De Kock is expected to be charged with the kidnapping and murder of Dean.

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A decision will reportedly be made on Tuesday or Wednesday, but as the victim, his relatives and the suspect are Belgian, De Kock is likely to be handed over to Belgium.

Contradictory statements

Meanwhile, it has been reported that De Kock's girlfriend, a Dutch woman who was friends with Dean's mother, was arrested on Tuesday morning during a search of the premises in Sint-Gillis-Waas where she lived with the suspect.

She was already questioned, but her statements appeared to be contradictory to De Kock's statements, according to reports from Het Nieuwsblad. It also appears she lied to the boy's mother about his whereabouts until Saturday. She is expected to be brought before the examining magistrate later in the afternoon.

The man reportedly had a fight in Belgium with his girlfriend while taking care of Dean, and took the child to Antwerp. Dean was not seen again until his body was discovered on Monday night.

It has now been reported that De Kock was previously sentenced to ten years in prison in 2010 for the fatal abuse of his 2-year-old stepson.

According to the young boy's mother, De Kock had looked after the boy before, and she trusted the couple to take care of him one evening as she was not able to do so for medical reasons. Although she was aware he had served time in prison, she did not know for what offences, she said.

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