German prosecutors have said they are ‘very confident’ of charging the chief suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, and that the public ‘would reach the same conclusion if they knew the evidence we had’.
Hans Christian Wolters – who is leading the investigation – said that while his team does not currently have enough evidence to charge Christian Brueckner, he is ‘very confident’, adding charges may be brought against the German in the new year.
‘If you knew the evidence we had you would come to the same conclusion as I do but I can’t give you details because we don’t want the accused to know what we have on him – these are tactical considerations,’ Wolters told the BBC.
German prosecutors are ‘very confident’ they can charge Madeleine McCann prime suspect Christian Brueckner, a convicted paedophile and rapist, over her 2007 disappearance
Brueckner, 43, is serving a 21-month sentence on an unrelated drugs matter at a prison in Kiel and will be transferred to Wolfenbuttel in January to start a seven-year sentence for raping an elderly American woman in Praia da Luz in 2005.
The convicted paedophile – referred to as Christian B in Germany due to the country’s strict privacy laws – was identified as a suspect in June, but prosecutors have previously said they do not have enough evidence to charge him.
At the time, German police released a trove of new evidence – including details of his cars and phone numbers – urging people to come forward with new tip-offs.
German prosecutors now say they believe they have ‘concrete evidence’ Madeleine is dead, and are set to charge Brueckner with three other sex crimes in Praia da Luz in Portugal, where the three-year-old vanished in 2007.
The prosecutor said that progress on the Madeleine McCann case was slow because of the challenges posed by the fact the disappearance happened 13 years ago.
But he added that the prosecution team were working hard to build a water-tight case against him before bringing charges.
Mr Wolters said: ‘I can’t promise, I can’t guarantee that we have enough to bring a charge but I’m very confident because what we have so far doesn’t allow any other conclusion at all.’
A source close to the probe told The Sun last week: ‘Things are moving along in the case and there have been several promising leads and tips, especially from British holidaymakers who were in Praia da Luz at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance.
‘We are hopeful of a breakthrough. At the moment we do not have enough to charge him with Madeleine’s disappearance but the evidence in the other cases is very strong.’
German police said over the weekend that they want to return to Portugal to continue their investigation into the case following ‘excellent’ leads from British holidaymakers.
Prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters, who is leading the investigation, addresses the media on the Madeleine McCann case in June. He has now said the public ‘would reach the same conclusion if they knew the evidence we had’ on German Christian Brueckner
Christian Brueckner is the prime suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in 2007. Pictured: A timeline showing his movements up until 2020 where he remain in a Kiel prison
Brueckner was previously remanded at the prison in Kiel ahead of last year’s trial for raping the elderly American woman. She was attacked just two years before Madeleine disappeared from the same Algarve resort.
Earlier this month, a court in Karslruhe rejected Brueckner’s appeal against the 2005 rape conviction and confirmed his seven-year sentence.
The move will make it easier for detectives in Braunschweig, around 15 minutes’ drive away, to question Brueckner about the Madeleine case, as well as two others.
Keeping prisoners is expensive and under Germany’s federal system the states are obliged to deal with their own prisoners rather than it being handled by a central judiciary.
German media says Brueckner received at least two criminal convictions from a Hanover court, one for forging documents in 2010 and another for theft in 2013.
He split his time between Germany and Portugal from 2013 to 2015, prosecutors in Hanover have said.
Brueckner lived in the Algarve for much of the period from 1995 to 2007, and German prosecutors say he received a phone call from a Portuguese number around the time of Madeleine’s disappearance in May 2007.
He made a living doing odd jobs in the area where Madeleine disappeared, and was also known to have burgled hotel rooms and holiday flats.
Madeleine was just three years old when she disappeared while on holiday in Praia da Luz in Portugal’s Algarve region with her parents Kate and Gerry McCann (pictured together)
Weeks after an allotment search, authorities indicated they had been looking for digital storage devices, but Brueckner’s lawyer accused them of ‘desperation’.
Since taking the lead in the case earlier this year, German police have struggled to explain what evidence they have about Madeleine’s disappearance.
In November, a leaked memo revealed that Portuguese investigators were ‘shocked’ by the lack of concrete evidence after being briefed on the case against Brueckner.
Before that, there was confusion about whether German authorities had specific evidence that Madeleine was dead, as they initially implied they did.
In the UK, the case remains a missing persons inquiry, as there’s no ‘definitive evidence whether Madeleine is alive or dead’.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said the force is working ‘really, really closely’ with the German authorities – but did not expect them to share all of their evidence.
Despite Wolters previously saying he has ‘concrete evidence’ Brueckner killed her Madeleine, Dame Cressida said the force’s ‘small team’ will continue considering Madeleine missing until ‘someone has been brought to justice’ or if ‘all possible opportunities’ have been exhausted.