Major development in Madeleine McCann case as suspect formally identified

A man has been formally named as a suspect by Portuguese authorities in the disappearance of British girl Madeleine McCann, almost 15 years after she went missing in the holiday town of Praia da Luz.

The breakthrough was confirmed on Friday by the Portuguese prosecutor's office, according to an initial report by AFP.

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. However they were later cleared.

Although the man has not been formally identified, Christian Brueckner, 44, a convicted rapist and paedophile, was named as the sole suspect in the then three-year-old's disappearance in 2007 by German authorities in 2020.

Mr Brueckner is in prison for the 2005 rape of a 72-year-old woman in Praia da Luz, the Portuguese town Madeleine disappeared from 14 years ago, but he has denied any involvement in Madeline's disappearance.

Madelaine disappeared almost 15 years ago in Portugal when she was just three years old. Source:  AP
Madelaine disappeared almost 15 years ago in Portugal when she was just three years old. Source: AP

The breakthrough comes just weeks ahead of May 3 which would mark exactly 15 years since Madeleine vanished.

While early reports suggested the man had been charged, it is unclear if that is actually the case.

Further complicating the case are time limit laws in Portugal that prevent prosecutions after 15 years.

In October last year, German prosecutor Hans Christian Walters told The Sun they were getting closer to pressing charges against Mr Brueckner.

"We have strong new evidence against the suspect," Mr Walters told the publication at the time.

"I cannot say when for certain but we are working very hard to solve this case and others where he is a suspect."

MILAN, ITALY -  This undated handout image supplied by the Carabinieri Milano shows a police mug shot of Christian Brueckner, a suspect in the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine McCann in 2007 from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal. The image was taken in 2018 in Milan where Brueckner was arrested and extradited to Germany for the rape he is currently imprisoned for. (Photo by Carabinieri Milano via Getty Images)
Christian Brueckner was named the sole suspect in the Madeleine McCann case in 2020. Source: AP

Sole suspect releases letter from jail

In June last year, Mr Brueckner broke his silence, writing a letter slamming the accusations against him and the prosecutors who made them, German media Bilt reported at the time.

The letter, dated May 8, was accompanied by a cartoon drawing poking fun of two prosecutors.

"Charging someone with a crime is one thing," he wrote.

"It is something completely different, namely an unbelievable scandal, when a public prosecutor starts a public prejudicial campaign before proceedings are even opened."

May last year would have marked Madeleine's18th birthday. She disappeared when she was three years old.

Despite ongoing investigations, no charges have ever been laid.

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