A convicted German child sex offender has been declared an official suspect by Portuguese prosecutors investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
Although they did not name the person of interest, prosecutors said they were acting on the request of German authorities. German tabloid newspaper Bild then reported that the suspect is Christian Brückner, who is currently serving a rape sentence in Germany.
Who is Brückner?
Brückner, referred to as Christian B in much of the German media due to the country’s strict privacy laws, was born in Germany in 1976 but moved to Portugal in his late teens. He lived in the Algarve between 1995 and 2007, where he burgled hotels and holiday flats, according to court documents seen by Reuters in 2020.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
He also “falsified passports” and was “caught stealing diesel from a Portuguese harbour”, The Guardian reported. He is believed to have been leading a transient lifestyle at the time of McCann’s disappearance in May 2007, when he was 30 years of age.
He was a “drifter” and a “paedo”, The Sun said, and has previous convictions for sex crimes against young girls. He has also been “linked with the disappearances of several children over the past 25 years, including that of a six-year-old boy in Portugal in 1996 and a five-year-old girl in Germany in 2015”.
Belgian authorities “have also linked him to the murder of missing 16-year-old Carola Titze”, the paper added. She “disappeared while on holiday in De Haan” in 1996.
He is currently serving a prison sentence for drug offences in Germany and was also handed a seven-year term for raping a 72-year-old woman in Portugal in 2005.
Is he the kidnapper?
Prosecutors in Germany identified him as a suspect in the McCann case in 2020. But it took until yesterday for him to be declared a “formal suspect”.
There is speculation that Brückner was named as an official suspect only in order to avoid the statute of limitations running out in Portugal. Portuguese law states that crimes punishable by more than ten years in jail, which includes kidnap and murder, must be heard within 15 years.
Friedrich Fulscher, Brückner’s lawyer, told Bild that “the step taken by the Portuguese authorities should not be overrated” because “this measure is a procedural artifice to stop the statute of limitations threatening in a few days”.
Last week Brückner wrote to the Daily Mail saying that he had not been questioned by the German authorities over Madeleine’s disappearance.
He added that “it is obvious the German authorities and especially the Department of Justice are providing the media with information about me that is likely to make me appear contemptible”.
In the UK, Scotland Yard last month announced that it would be closing its 11-year investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance this year.
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.