Madeleine McCann vigil in Rothley, 15 years after going missing
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An investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann will not reach a conclusion this year, prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters has said. The prime suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann may not even be charged next year due to difficulties with the case. Detectives believe convicted sex offender Christian Brueckner, 45, killed Madeleine after abducting her from an apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 3 2007.
Brueckner denies involvement in the youngster’s disappearance. He was identified as a murder suspect in the McCann case by Portuguese officials in June 2020.
In response to a report that police in Germany were hoping to bring charges by Christmas, Hans Christian Wolters, public prosecutor in Braunschweig, Germany, told Express.co.uk: “No, this report is misinformation. I can say for sure that we will not conclude the investigation into Maddie this year. I cannot predict whether this will be the case in 2023.”
He said there is no likelihood Brueckner will be charged by Christmas in connection with Maddie’s disappearance and murder, adding: “There will definitely be no charge this year. Whether there will be a charge at all, and if so when, is completely open.”
Mr Wolters explained that in Germany the public prosecutor’s office can only bring charges and not the police.
He said: “Whether charges are brought is always decided after the investigation has been completed. However, since the investigations in the Maddie case have not been concluded, no decision has been made yet on whether charges can be brought or not.
“We want to clarify the fate of Madeleine McCann and bring the perpetrator to justice. Whether it is Christian B. and whether the evidence is sufficient for a prosecution, we will decide in due course.”
Asked why it was taking so long to bring charges, Mr Wolters added: “The length of the investigation is due to the difficult body of evidence, which of course has primarily to do with the considerable lapse of time since the crime. However, we still have promising lines of enquiry that we want to pursue.”
Mr Wolters’ remarks come after the public prosecutor’s office in Braunschweig said Brueckner is accused of five offences between 2000 and 2017 in Portugal unrelated to Maddie’s case.
The Braunschweig state court said on Wednesday the opening of any trial should not be expected this year due to other cases on its schedule.
The court will decide whether to send the case to trial after the defence has had an opportunity to respond to the charges and raise possible objections.
Prosecutors said on Tuesday Brueckner had been charged with three counts of rape and two counts of child sexual abuse, which are not connected to Madeleine McCann.
He is accused of filming himself raping a woman in her 70s in a holiday apartment.
He also allegedly raped a 20-year-old Irish woman in Praia da Rocha, waking her up at knife-point and tying her to a table.
Brueckner is also alleged to have filmed himself orally raping a teenage girl in her Praia da Luz home.
The suspect is also accused of exposing himself to a 10-year-old German girl on Salema beach in Faro and an 11-year-old Portuguese girl in Sao Bartolomeu de Messines while she was sitting on a playground swing.
Asked if there was any significance to the fact Brueckner has been charged with offences near where Maddie disappeared, Mr Wolters said: “In principle, none. Whether Christian B. has anything to do with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann or not is to be judged completely independently of the current charges.”
Brueckner is already serving a seven-year sentence for rape in Portugal in 2005.
Maddie disappeared from her bedroom during a family holiday in the Algarve while her parents were dining with friends nearby in the resort of Praia da Luz.
Media focus on the case led to reported sightings around the world, however, an initial investigation by Portuguese police produced no major leads.
In 2011, then Prime Minister David Cameron ordered a review by the Metropolitan Police after being contacted by Maddie’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann.
The following year, detectives said they identified 195 investigative opportunities. In 2013, UK police launched their own investigation – Operation Grange – saying they had identified 38 potential suspects.
Later that year, they released an e-fit image of a number of men, including one of an unidentified suspect they particularly wanted to trace. Shortly afterwards, Portuguese prosecutors ordered the case to be reopened by local police.
The new inquiry led Portuguese police to interview four suspects, who were later cleared of any involvement. A search by detectives of wasteland near Praia da Luz also failed to provide a breakthrough.
Detectives then suggested Maddie might have been one of the victims of a series of sexual assaults on British children in Portugal, probably carried out by a single offender between 2004 and 2010.
But in 2017, marking a decade since she disappeared, detectives said they may never solve the case despite still following critical lines of inquiry.
However, British and German police said they had identified a new suspect in June 2020. He was later identified as Brueckner. He denies any involvement.
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