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Madeleine McCann disappearance latest: where did child go missing - and who is suspect Christian Brueckner?

Madeleine McCann disappeared from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on 3 May, 2007 when she was just 3 years old

The case of Madeleine McCann who disappeared while on holiday with her family captured the attention of the world.

Fifteen years on the search for answers to what happened to the young British girl continues.

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Christian Brueckner was made a ‘formal suspect’ in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann by Portuguese authorities earlier this year.

Recently Brueckner’s ex-girlfriend’s dad has said he fears Madeleine McCann was inside the prime suspect’s van as he was being shown around it.

The 44-year-old, who has not been charged since he was identified as a murder suspect by German prosecutors in June 2020, is currently in prison for the rape of a 72-year-old American woman in Praia da Luz.

Madeleine McCann

Investigators believe the convicted sex offender killed Madeleine, then aged 3, after abducting her from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on 3 May 2007 with new evidence coming to light just last month from a German TV channel.

A team behind a new documentary claims mobile phone records puts him “no more than 5 minutes away” from where she disappeared. In a series of letters to SAT.1, he denied he had anything to do with Madeleine’s disappearance.

What was said about the van?

Brueckner was living in the camper van at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance.

Dieter Fehlinger, 67, was given a tour of the VW by Brueckner when visiting daughter Nicole, 45, in Portugal in 2007.

Nicole, who is not a suspect had been dating Brueckner since the previous year.

In a TV interview Dieter said he is haunted that Madeleine could have been inside the van.

The Sun reports former ambulance driver Dieter claimed Brueckner boasted he could hide drugs or “even a small child” inside an adapted hiding place.

He told Australian TV: “I have been thinking about it the whole time.”

Has new evidence been found?

A German prosecutor has said new evidence has been found against the prime suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

Hans Christian Wolters made the revelation during a TV interview on the 15th anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance.

He told Portuguese TV journalist Sandra Felgueiras on the TV channel CMTV: “The investigation is still going on and I think we found some new facts, some new evidence, not forensic evidence, but evidence.”

In the interview, Ms Felgueiras asked Mr Wolters: “Is it true that you found something belonging to Madeleine in the caravan of Christian Brueckner? You can’t deny it, can you?”

He replied: “I don’t want to deny it.

Why has Brueckner been denied parole?

Brueckner – who was sentenced to a seven-year term for rape in a separate case in 2019 – was denied parole in Germany in April due to his “social prognosis”.

A spokesperson for the Oldenburg District Court told the paper: “The court ruled there were no grounds for suspending the remainder of the sentence.”

Brueckner, who was identified as a murder suspect by German prosecutors in June 2020, has reportedly denied any involvement in the McCann case and has not been charged.

Investigators believe the convicted sex offender killed Madeleine, then three, after abducting her from the holiday apartment.

Hans Christian Wolters told the Mirror: “His request was rejected on the grounds that he could not be given a positive social prognosis.

“In other words, the court has said it believes that the convict will commit further offences if released.”

Kate and Gerry McCann at a press conference in 2007.

What was the new evidence found by SAT.1?

A team working on a documentary for German TV channel SAT.1 says it has made new findings in case.

The channel says its team has found evidence which reveals suspect Brueckner was near the holiday resort shortly before three-year-old Madeleine went missing.

It claims he ‘repeatedly worked’ at the holiday apartments where the McCanns were staying.

Quoting a ‘reliable witness’, documentary makers SAT.1 allege he carried out “repair work” at the resort and was “very familiar” with the area, the Telegraph reports.

The TV crew claimed ‘on-site analysis of phone records showed Brueckner and his cell phone must have been no more than five minutes away from the Ocean Club [apartments] on the night of the disappearance.’

SAT1. previously said its reporting team has made its research on the case available to the Braunschweig public prosecutor.

SAT.1 Editor-in-Chief Juliane Eßling: “The sad story of Madeleine McCann is a story that has many German facets.

Speaking of Brueckner, she said: “There are many around him German women and men who can describe individual details about the crime. For our documentary ‘SAT.1 investigative’, journalist Jutta Rabe has researched shocking material in Germany, Portugal and England over the past few months, which Christian B. is heavily incriminated in.”

General view shows the apartment hotel building where Madelaine McCann disappeared in Praia da Luz, southern Portugal.

Who is suspect Christian Brueckner?

In 2020 German police named a main suspect, Christian Brueckner, as who they think is responsible for abducting and killing her, though he has never been charged.

German investigators believe he killed Madeleine soon after abducting her from a holiday apartment in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz in May 2007.

He is serving a 15-month prison sentence in Germany for drug dealing, and is appealing a conviction for the 2005 rape of a 72-year-old American woman, also at Praia da Luz, for which he was sentenced to seven years in jail.

He was named prime suspect over Madeleine’s disappearance in 2020 by German police, although his lawyer said he denies any involvement in the case. He has now been made an official suspect in her disappearance.

Christian B was named as the prime suspect in the case.

What has he said?

According to a Sky News report he claims he was miles from the scene having sex with a woman in his camper van. He said he drove her to Faro Airport the next morning for her flight home and they were stopped at a police roadblock.

The suspect claims she was arrested at airport security for carrying an illegal pepper spray and later appeared in court.

Meanwhile, the team at SAT.1 said he protested his innocence during an exchange of letters with Jutta Rabe that lasted several months.

The channel says he told them in 2007 he worked as a drug dealer in the Algarve, but: “I was never caught by the police because I stuck to a few principles.

“If possible, only drive during the day so that my battered ‘hippie bus’ doesn’t attract attention, only drive necessary routes and most importantly, by no means provoke the police. So don’t commit crimes, certainly not steal people. At the time, the latter was just as absurd to me as starting a nuclear war or slaughtering a chicken.”

He also said: “I see no reason to comment on the allegations made by the Braunschweig public prosecutor. In principle, I could sit back and relax and let the results come to me.”

What has Madeleine McCann’s family said?

Madeleine McCann’s parents Kate and Gerry have welcomed the news that Brueckner has been named as a formal suspect in the Portuguese authorities’ investigation into their daughter’s disappearance.

In a message posted on the Official Find Madeleine Campaign Facebook page on Friday (22 April), the pair wrote: “Even though the possibility may be slim, we have not given up hope that Madeleine is still alive and we will be reunited with her”.

“We welcome the news that the Portuguese authorities have declared a German man an ‘arguido’ in relation to the disappearance of our beloved daughter Madeleine.

“This reflects progress in the investigation, being conducted by the Portuguese, German and British authorities.

“We are kept informed of developments by the Metropolitan police.

“It is important to note the ‘arguido’ has not yet been charged with any specific crime related to Madeleine’s disappearance.”

In a message on the Official Find Madeleine Campaign Facebook page on Monday, Kate and Gerry McCann wrote although “uncertainty creates weakness”, they need closure on what happened to the toddler at the holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 3 2007.

Timeline of events in the Madeleine McCann case.

What’s happening with the investigation?

The Met Police probe into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann is expected to end this year according to reports.

Operation Grange was set up in 2011, four years after the three-year-old vanished from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal on 3 May 2007 .

The Sun reported that a source said: “The end of the road for Operation Grange is now in sight.

“The team’s work is expected to be completed by autumn. There are currently no plans to take the inquiry any further.”

The Sun reported the source said the case file could be re-opened if any significant new information comes to light.

Madeleine’s parents are reportedly aware of the plans to close the investigation.

The Metropolitan Police has continued to treat her disappearance as a missing persons inquiry.