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prosecutors name a formal suspect

(Reuters) — Portuguese prosecutors said Thursday that a man has been formally identified as a suspect in the disappearance of British girl 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 acquitted.

Madeleine disappeared from her bedroom on May 3, 2007 during a family vacation in the Algarve region while her parents were having dinner with friends at the Praia da Luz seaside resort.

Prosecutors in Faro, the main city in the Algarve, did not publicly name the man, but said in a statement that German authorities identified him as a suspect at their request.

Another case linked to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann 1:02

Police in Germany said in June 2020 that Madeleine was presumed dead and convicted drug lord and child molester 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 has denied involvement in McCann’s disappearance.

New searches for Madeleine McCann in Germany 0:29

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 vacation apartments, according to court documents seen by Reuters in 2020. He also forged passports and was caught stealing diesel at a Portuguese port.

Portugal’s Judicial Police handed over documents bearing hundreds of names related 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.

The reasons that led Portuguese prosecutors to identify a suspect are now unclear, but it could be related to Portugal’s 15-year statute of limitations for crimes with a maximum prison sentence of 10 years or more.

Next month will mark 15 years since the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

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