European prosecutors formally charge suspect in Madeleine McCann disappearance case

FARO, Portugal (NBC) – Prosecutors in southern Portugal are formally accusing a suspect in the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, a British girl who disappeared nearly 15 years ago while on a family vacation in the southern European country.

A statement on Thursday by the Public Ministry District of Faro, the largest city in Portugal’s Algarve region, did not name the suspect but said they were acting on a request by German authorities and in coordination with English investigators.

In mid-2020, Germany’s police identified Christian Brueckner, a German citizen, as a suspect in the case.

McCann was 3 years old at the time of her disappearance from an apartment where her family was vacationing in the Algarve seaside town of Praia da Luz.

45-year-old Brueckner is serving a sentence on drug offenses in a German prison and has a pending seven-year sentence for the 2005 rape of a 72-year-old American woman in Portugal. The rape also took place in Praia da Luz.

Brueckner has denied any involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance.

Investigators in the nearby town of Portimao are leading the probe with the assistance of the judiciary police, the prosecutor’s statement said.

Brueckner lived in the Algarve between 1995 and 2007 and burgled hotels and holiday flats, according to court documents. he also falsified passports and was caught stealing diesel from a Portuguese harbor.

German police received their first tip-off linking Brueckner to Madeleine’s case in 2013.

The reasons that led Portuguese prosecutors to identify a suspect now are not clear 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 Madeleine disappeared.

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