German prisoner revealed as new suspect in Madeleine McCann case 13 years after she disappeared

4 June 2020, 10:22 | Updated: 4 June 2020, 12:53

Madeleine McCann's parents have spoken out after a new suspect was revealed
Madeleine McCann's parents have spoken out after a new suspect was revealed. Picture: PA Images

Police have announced a new suspect in the missing child case of Madeleine McCann.

Police have appealed for the public's help in the ongoing Madeleine McCann case, after they announced a new suspect.

43-year-old Christian Brueckner is currently in jail, but he is believed to have been in the area where Madeleine disappeared in Portugal 13 years ago.

Christian Hoppe, from Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office, told the country’s ZDF television channel that Brueckner is serving a prison sentence for a sex crime and has two previous convictions for ‘sexual contact with girls’.

Following the new evidence, Madeline’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, have said it is 'potentially very significant'

The family’s longtime spokesperson, Clarence Mitchell said that in the 13 year hunt for their child, the police had never been so specific about an individual.

Madeleine McCann's parents have appealed for more information
Madeleine McCann's parents have appealed for more information. Picture: PA Images

“Kate and Gerry do feel it’s potentially very significant. They have welcomed the appeal; they’re not doing any interviews themselves about it because they wish the focus to remain on the police request rather than they themselves.”

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He went on: “There have there been countless sightings, tipoffs, rumours, assumptions made largely by the media about A or B, which have all suddenly come to nothing.

“Nor would I want to talk about any sense of hope or optimism around this one, given the circumstances. But, as I say, in my memory of being involved in the case, the police have never been quite so specific about an individual, as they have been in this appeal.”

A photo of a Jaguar has been shared in the hunt for Madeleine
A photo of a Jaguar has been shared in the hunt for Madeleine. Picture: PA Images

Madeleine went missing from an apartment in Praia da Luz on the evening of 3 May 2007, while her parents were at a nearby tapas bar with their friends.

Her disappearance sparked a huge hunt across Europe which has cost more than £11m.

In a statement from the Met Police, new suspect Brueckner was described as being white, with short blond hair, and around 6ft tall.

Now aged 43, in 2007 he was 30, and police said he may have looked as young as 25. Brueckner had been in the Algarve between 1995 and 2007.

He has "numerous" previous convictions for "sexual abuse of children", the office added.

On Wednesday investigators revealed photos of two vehicles - a VW camper van and a Jaguar car - which are believed to be linked to the man.

A photo of a VW camper van has been released by the MET police
A photo of a VW camper van has been released by the MET police. Picture: PA Images

The day after Madeleine’s disappearance, the suspect re-registered the car in Germany under someone else’s name at a time when police believe the car was still in Portugal.

Police have also released details of the suspect's phone number (+351 912 730 680) and the number which dialled him (+351 916 510 683), and said any information about these numbers could be "critical".

There is a £20,000 Met reward for information leading to the conviction of the person responsible for the disappearance of Madeleine.

Det Chief Insp Mark Cranwell, who leads the operation, said: “It’s more than thirteen years since Madeleine went missing and none of us can imagine what it must be like for her family, not knowing what happened or where she is.

“Following the 10 year anniversary the Met received information about a German man, who was known to have been in and around Praia da Luz. We have been working with colleagues in Germany and Portugal and this man is a suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance.

“The Met conducted a number of enquiries and in November 2017 engaged with the BKA who agreed to work with the Met.

“Since then a huge amount of work has taken place by both the Met, the BKA and the Polícia Judiciária.

“While this male is a suspect we retain an open mind as to his involvement and this remains a missing person inquiry.

“Our job as detectives is to follow the evidence, maintain an open mind and establish what happened on that day in May 2007."

Those with information can contact the Operation Grange incident room on 020 7321 9251.

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