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Madeleine McCann suspect charged with sex offenses

The prime suspect in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance has been charged with multiple sex offenses.

German prosecutors have indicted Christian Brueckner, a convicted sex offender who was named a suspect in the case by Portuguese officials in April.

The alleged crimes took place in Portugal between December 2000 and June 2017, prosecutors said.

“The defendant is the same person against whom charges were brought in connection with the disappearance of the then three-year-old British girl Madeleine Beth McCann,” the Braunschweig public prosecutor said.

“Specifically, the accused is charged with three offenses of serious rape and two offenses of sexual abuse of children.

“The investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann continues,” the statement added.

The office did not say the charges were related to the McCann case.

In May, German police claim to have found new evidence of Madeleine in a Brueckner van.

As Madeleine’s parents held a vigil to mark the 15th anniversary of her disappearance while on a family holiday in Portugal, lead investigator Hans-Christian Wolters revealed evidence that may link the convicted rapist to the three-year-old’s disappearance.

Her parents have said they still hope police efforts in three countries will eventually yield answers. Prosecutor Wolters previously said he believed Madeleine was dead.

Brueckner is a German citizen and that country’s law states that evidence cannot be released until a suspect and his legal team have been given full details.

He had reportedly been using a yellow and white VW T3 Westfalia camper van in and around Praia da Luz – the Algarve resort where the McCanns were holidaying when Madeleine disappeared.

Brueckner is currently behind bars for raping a 72-year-old American tourist in the same area of ​​Portugal where Madeleine went missing and has also been linked to the rape of an Irish tour guide.

Brueckner was unmasked as the prime suspect in Germany’s 2020 investigation into the disappearance of the toddler and was officially named a suspect by Portuguese police in April.

German prosecutors say telecommunications data shows Brueckner received a call on May 3, 2007 near the Praia da Luz holiday home from which the three-year-old disappeared, but he allegedly claims to have been miles from the scene 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 next day. According to Sky News, they were stopped at a police roadblock and photographed.

When Portuguese police named Bruckner an arguido – a formal suspect – on April 21, it was the first time since 2007 that they had identified an official suspect. At the time, they named Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann as suspects, but both were later acquitted.

It has been suggested that the move could potentially be “procedural in nature”, coupled with the fact that the Portuguese statute of limitations does not allow certain crimes to be prosecuted more than 15 years after they have been committed.

Last month, Kate and Gerry McCann lost their legal battle over comments made by a former Portuguese detective. Goncalo Amaral claimed in a book, a documentary and a newspaper interview that the McCanns were involved in their daughter’s disappearance.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) dismissed the couple’s complaint that the Portuguese authorities failed to respect their right to private and family life in their defamation case against Mr Amaral.

The ECtHR ruled that prior to the publication of Mr Amaral’s book in July 2008, there had already been extensive publicity about the allegations against her. He also noted that their reputations had not been damaged by him, but rather by the fact that they became official suspects for a short time.

In a statement released by their lawyers, the McCanns said they were “disappointed” with the verdict.

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