Key witness 'breakthrough' as Madeleine McCann suspect to front court

The breakthrough means the witness will be able to testify in court next month against Christian Brueckner at a rape trial.

In what is being dubbed a key "breakthrough" in the Madeleine McCann case, the prime suspect in her disappearance will have a crucial witness testify against him in a separate upcoming trial despite the convicted rapist's attempts to have him excluded.

Christian Brueckner, 45, is set to go on trial in February for allegedly raping and sexually assaulting several women and a young girl between 2000 and 2017 when he lived on Portugal’s Algarve coast — where Madeleine disappeared in May 2007 when aged three years old.

Brueckner is suspected of kidnapping and killing Madeleine almost 17 years ago while she was staying in a Portuguese beach resort with her family and is currently serving a seven-year jail sentence in Germany for the rape of a 72-year-old tourist from the same resort Maddie vanished from.

A headshot of Christian Brueckner and image of the gate of the hotel in Portugal where Madeleine McCann vanished from.
Christian Brueckner's attempt to have a key witness excluded from his forthcoming trial have failed. Source: AAP

Brueckner attempted to have witness excluded from trial

According to MailOnline, former friend of the convicted rapist, Helge Busching, is a key witness whose testimony previously assisted police jail Brueckner for the rape of the 72-year-old-woman, and helped police classify Brueckner as the prime suspect in Maddie's disappearance in 2022.

The UK publication reported Brueckner's lawyer Friedrich Fulscher had filed a claim that Busching was lying about evidence, trying to get him excluded as a key witness from the trial, but German officials have since thrown out these claims.

Witness claims Brueckner confessed to Maddie kidnap

Busching is said to have claimed he had stolen a camera with videotape showing Brueckner sexually assaulting several women, which reportedly helped put him in jail for the rape of a 72-year-old American woman, according to The Sun.

He also claims in an interview with German newspaper Bild in June last year that Brueckner "confessed" to kidnapping Maddie, and said it was "odd that she didn’t scream" when they discussed her kidnapping.

Busching originally gave up his former friend’s name to Scotland Yard’s 'Operation Grange' team police in 2017.

Photos of Madeleine McCann and her parents holding up a photo of what she would look like now.
In 2020, Portugese police apologised to the McCanns for the way their investigation was handled. Source: Getty

Madeleine disappeared from a holiday home in Praia da Luz, Portugal, where she was on holiday with her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann. They had left the then three-year-old and her younger twin siblings asleep in their apartment while they had dinner with friends.

Despite maintaining that their young daughter had been kidnapped, the couple were soon named suspects by Portuguese police, who believed they had staged an abduction and concealed her body, and became the victims of much online scrutiny.

In 2023, Portuguese police renewed the search for Madeleine, with officers and their German and British coubterparts digging and scraping the surface of land near a dam close to where she went missing. They later apologised to the McCanns for the way their investigation was handled.

Brueckner has not been charged with any offence in relation to Madeleine McCann’s disappearance at this stage.

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