Madeleine McCann: Christian Brueckner declared formal suspect (2024)

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Madeleine McCann: Christian Brueckner declared formal suspect (1)Image source, PA

By Adam Durbin & Andre Rhoden-Paul

BBC News

A German man has been declared an official suspect by Portuguese prosecutors investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

Christian Brueckner, 45, has been made an "arguido", but Portuguese authorities have not formally revealed the suspect's name.

In 2020 German police announced they were investigating him in connection with Madeleine's disappearance.

Brueckner has not been charged and denies any involvement in the case.

German authorities informed him he was a suspect, at the request of Portuguese prosecutors in Faro.

Three-year-old Madeleine disappeared during a family holiday in Praia da Luz in 2007.

She has never been found and investigators believe she was abducted from the holiday apartment where the family were staying in the Algarve resort.

On Thursday, a statement was issued by prosecutors in Faro, Algarve's main city, who said a person was made an "arguido" - which translates as "named suspect", "formal suspect" or "person of interest" - a day earlier.

On 3 May it will be 15 years since Madeleine was reported missing and under Portuguese law it would no longer be possible to declare someone a person of interest beyond this date. Declaring someone a person of interest is a necessary step to any criminal charges.

In its statement, though, Portugal's office of public prosecutions said the move was not driven by timing, but by "strong indications" of the practice of a crime.

He is currently serving a prison sentence for drug offences in Germany and was also given a seven-year term for raping a 72-year-old woman.

The Metropolitan Police continue to treat Madeleine's disappearance as a missing persons inquiry.

Analysis

by Alison Roberts, BBC Portugal correspondent

Image source, other

The Madeleine McCann case has been out of the news in Portugal for some time, and in the last few years almost all developments have emerged from the prosecutor's office in Germany.

This latest news has been widely reported, though in some cases not very prominently and with few details.

Virtually everyone in Portugal knows about the case, though, with many having for months if not years followed the ins and outs. Not only the various criminal investigations, but the civil case in which Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann sued - ultimately unsuccessfully - the former lead detective on the case, Gonçalo Amaral, after he published a book about it.

He had already attracted a lot of criticism, particularly from British tabloids, which raised some hackles in Portugal, since the Judicial Police, or PJ, is in fact one of the country's most respected institutions.

It's not clear whether or when the Portuguese authorities might charge this or any other suspect in the case.

While there are legal deadlines, the pandemic could be grounds for the courts to rule that more time is allowed.

Madeleine, from Rothley, Leicestershire, was on holiday with her family at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz when she disappeared on 3 May 2007.

Madeleine's whereabouts remains unknown, despite her disappearance being the most heavily reported missing person case. She is due to turn 19 years of age in May this year.

Her case has been the subject of multiple documentaries, including a Netflix series which was criticised by her parents.

Jim Gamble, a former police officer who led a 2010 review of the case commissioned by the Home Office, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the case against Brueckner was strong.

He said: "This seems like a really strong case and that's why I don't think it is a procedural tick in a box to make sure they don't miss out because of the statute of limitations.

"I think there's been a growing case and we should not underestimate the confidence of the German police."

The child protection expert claimed a phone attributed to the convicted rapist placed him in the area within a 30-minute window. He also said Brueckner had burgled holiday homes in the area and had children's clothes in his camper van.

He continued: "I think the circ*mstantial evidence that I know exists is extremely strong… I wouldn't be surprised if charges follow."

Brueckner denies any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance.

Mr Gamble added: "It would just be fantastic to be able to give the McCanns peace of mind so far as knowing exactly what happened."

The Madeleine McCann case: a timeline

  • 3 May 2007: Alarm is raised after Madeleine is found to be missing at a holiday complex in Portugal

  • September 2007: Kate and Gerry McCann are made "arguidos" - formal suspects - in their daughter's disappearance

  • July 2008: Portuguese police halt their investigation and lift the "arguido" status of the McCanns and another man, Robert Murat

  • July 2013: Scotland Yard says it has "new evidence and new witnesses" in the case and opens a formal investigation into Madeleine's disappearance

  • October 2013: Detectives in Portugal reopen the investigation, citing "new lines of inquiry"

  • February 2017: Portugal's Supreme Court dismisses a long-running libel case against Goncalo Amaral, former head of the local police investigation

  • April 2017: The only four official suspects investigated by police are ruled out of the investigation but senior officers say they are pursuing a "significant line of inquiry"

  • March 2019: Netflix screens an eight-part documentary about Madeleine's disappearance. Her parents, who did not participate in the film, feel it could "potentially hinder" the police investigation

  • June 2020: Police reveal that a 43-year-old German prisoner - named as Christian Brueckner - has been identified as a suspect in Madeleine's disappearance

  • April 2022: Christian Brueckner is declared an official suspect in the case

Read more here.

Related Topics

  • Madeleine McCann disappearance

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Madeleine McCann: Christian Brueckner declared formal suspect (2024)
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