The main suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann has been charged with sexual offenses against other children.
German prisoner Christian Brueckner was identified as a suspect in Madeleine’s case in April this year after the yellow and white VW T3 Westfalia camper van was reportedly identified near the resort of Praia da Luz in Portugal, where the young Briton went missing in May. 3, 2007.
Three-year-old Madeleine disappeared from the bed of her apartment in Praia da Luz while her parents and family friends dined 55 meters away. Her two-year-old twin brothers were also in the apartment from which she disappeared.
Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, have been searching for answers ever since.
The Metropolitan Police took over the investigation, Operation Grange, in 2011 but hit a dead end. There has been no other major suspect in the case since 2007 until Brueckner.
Who is Christian Brueckner?
German prisoner Christian Brueckner was recently revealed as a major suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance.
The 45-year-old is a prolific burglar and has previously been convicted of sexual crimes against young girls.
He was born in Germany in 1976 and moved to Portugal in his late teens.
He is believed to have lived there between 1995 and 2007 and worked in the food industry.
Brueckner is described as about 6 feet tall, thin and white with short blond hair.
What are the charges against him?
Brueckner was declared the prime suspect in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance by Portuguese police in April 2022.
Already in prison in Germany for the rape and murder of a 72-year-old woman, he has now also been charged with multiple sex offenses that allegedly took place between 2000 and 2007.
Police in Germany claim they have “concrete evidence” that the British girl, who was three when she went missing, is dead, although this has not been proven.
A spokesman for the Braunschweig public prosecutor’s office said: “The defendant is the same person charged in connection with the disappearance of then three-year-old British Madeleine Beth McCann.
“Specifically, the defendant is charged with three counts of rape and two counts of child sexual abuse.
“Investigation into Madeleine McCann’s disappearance continues”.
The charges are unrelated to the McCann case.
But in May German police claimed to have found new evidence linking Madeleine inside a van belonging to Brueckner.
How was he identified as a suspect?
Brueckner is said to have been using a yellow and white VW T3 Westfalia motorhome in and around Praia da Luz – the Algarve resort where the McCanns were visiting at the time Madeleine disappeared.
German prosecutors say telecommunications evidence shows Brueckner received a phone call on May 3, 2007, near the holiday apartment in Praia da Luz from which the three-year-old disappeared, but reportedly claimed he was miles away with a young German woman .
The 45-year-old, who has always denied any involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance, insists he drove the woman, who was on holiday with her parents, to Faro airport for her flight home the following day. They were stopped and photographed at a police roadblock, according to Sky News.
When Portuguese police named Brueckner as an arguido – an official suspect – on April 21, it was the first time they had identified an official suspect since 2007. Back then, they named Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann as suspects, but both they were later released.
Why is he in prison in Germany?
In April 2022, Brueckner was jailed in Germany for the rape and murder of a 72-year-old woman in the same resort – Praia da Luz – where Madeleine went missing.
Police in Germany, who are treating the case as a murder investigation, believe Brickner planned to rob the holiday apartment but “proceeded sexually motivated”.
He is believed to have a total of 17 convictions, including for burglary as he steals from hotels and rental flats.
Other cases Brueckner has been associated with
Brueckner has also been linked to other child disappearances, including a six-year-old boy in Portugal in 2000, a five-year-old girl in Germany in 2015 and a number of others.
In 2020, he was investigated for the rape and murder of Tristan Brübach, a 15-year-old boy from Germany.
Belgian authorities have also linked him to the murder of teenager Carola Titze, 16. She went missing while on holiday in De Haan, Belgium on July 5, 1996, and her body was discovered among sand dunes severely mutilated on July 11.
Other cases believed to be linked to Brueckner include Inga Gehrike who went missing from Saxony-Anhalt, Germany on May 2, 2015, René Hasee, six, who disappeared while on a family vacation in Aljezur, Portugal on June 21, 1996 and Jair Soares who disappeared in August 1995.
The case of Peggy Knobloch has also been linked to Brueckner after her disappearance in May 2001.