Portuguese prosecutors said on Thursday a man had been officially identified as a suspect in the disappearance of British child Madeleine McCann 15 years ago.
It is the first time Portuguese prosecutors have identified an official suspect in the case since Kate and Gerry McCann, Madeleine’s parents, were named suspects in 2007. They were later cleared.
Madeleine disappeared from her bedroom on May 3, 2007 during a family holiday in the Algarve region while her parents dined with friends nearby in the resort town of Praia da Luz.
Prosecutors in Faro, the main town in the Algarve, did not publicly name the man, but said in a statement that he had been identified as a suspect by German authorities at his request.
German police said in June 2020 that Madeleine was presumed dead and convicted child molester and drug dealer Christian Brueckner was likely responsible.
But, since then, Brueckner, 45, has not been charged with any crime related to the disappearance. He is behind bars in Germany for raping a woman in the same area of the Algarve region where Madeleine disappeared in 2007.
Brueckner denied being involved in McCann’s disappearance.
Prosecutors said the investigation was carried out with the cooperation of British and German authorities.
Brueckner lived in the Algarve between 1995 and 2007 and robbed hotels and holiday apartments, according to court documents seen by Reuters in 2020. He also forged passports and was caught stealing diesel at a Portuguese port .
Portuguese judicial police handed over documents containing hundreds of names linked to Madeleine’s case, including Christian Brueckner, to British authorities in 2012, according to the force.
German police received their first tip linking Brueckner to the Madeleine case in 2013.
It is unclear why Portuguese prosecutors identified a suspect, but it could be linked to Portugal’s 15-year statute of limitations for crimes carrying a maximum prison sentence of 10 years or more.
Next month will mark 15 years since Madeleine’s disappearance.
(Reporting by Catarina Demony; Editing by Stephen Coates)