In Depth

Reaction: German police reveal ‘sordid’ crimes of new Madeleine McCann suspect

Convicted paedophile Christian Brücker named in police investigation

The German suspect being investigated over Madeleine McCann’s disappearance is a rapist called Christian Bruckner who is in prison for an attack in Portugal two years before she vanished, according to multiple sources. 

Launching a fresh appeal for help in finding out what happened to Madeleine, the German authorities yesterday said that she is “assumed to be dead” and that a 43-year-old German man was being investigated on suspicion of murder. They declined to name the suspect, in accordance with laws in Germany, where the media is referring to him only as Christian B.

However, Hans Christian Wolters - a state prosecutor in Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, where Bruckner is in jail - said the suspect was “a multiple sexual predator already convicted of crimes against little girls”, the Daily Mail reports.

A number of publications including The Times and The Telegraph say sources close to the investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance have confirmed that Bruckner is the prime suspect - a claim that Scotland Yard has refused to confirm or deny.

Investigators have reportedly placed Bruckner in Praia da Luz on the night of 3 May 2007, when Madeleine was abducted from a resort in the Algarve region.

In December last year, Bruckner was sentenced to seven years in prison for the rape of a 72-year-old US woman in Praia da Luz in September 2005. He also beat and whipped his victim, who told investigators: “I felt he enjoyed torturing me.”

Bruckner, who was already serving time for drugs, has denied the rape and “has launched a legal challenge against his conviction that will be considered by the European Court of Justice”, reports The Independent.

According to The Times, he “became a suspect in Madeleine’s abduction in 2017 when he confessed to a friend in a pub after her face was shown on TV during an appeal marking ten years since her disappearance”.

 “A source said the friend tipped off German police, who informed the Met,” reports the newspaper, which adds that  “Bruckner, who police said lived on the Algarve between 1995 and 2007, is understood not to be cooperating with the inquiry”.

A British neighbour of Bruckner who was 14 years old at the time of McCann’s abduction told The Times that he was “an oddball who kept to himself”, adding: “You just get a bad feeling about someone.” 

The German had a reputation as a bit of a “flash Harry”, says The Telegraph, “driving a fancy Jaguar and always wearing a smart shirt and jacket”.

But “far from being a successful entrepreneur on the Algarve, Bruckner was in reality a sadistic sexual predator funding his lifestyle through burglaries and thefts from hotels and holiday homes and from drug trafficking”, the paper continues.

Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry, believe the latest developments in the investigation into her disappearance are “potentially very significant”, reports The Guardian, which says that investigators’ public appeal for information has “led to new tip-offs”.

Clarence Mitchell, a spokesperson for the McCann family, said that in the 13 years since the three-year-old disappeared, there had never been a time “I can recall [the police] focusing on one individual”.

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