Fifteen years after Maddie's disappearance, Portuguese justice resumes track in Germany

Fifteen years after Maddie’s disappearance, Portuguese justice resumes track in Germany

Almost 15 years after the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in the south of Portugal, the country’s justice decided to follow the trail of German investigators, who in 2020 identified a multi-repeat offender as the main suspect in the murder of the British girl.

The Portuguese prosecutor’s office announced on Thursday that had requested to indict a suspect in Germany, without specifying his identity or the nature of the suspicions weighing on him, in the framework of an investigation into Maddie’s disappearance carried out “in cooperation with the English and German authorities”.

The reactions collected by AFP on Friday from the Brunswick prosecutor’s office and the lawyer of a German suspect identified as “Christian B.” they leave no doubt that he has also become the number 1 suspect of the Portuguese prosecution.

“It is obvious that Portugal also has suspicions about him,” But “I would be surprised if overnight they were further along in their investigation than we are here,” Hans Christian Wolters, a spokesman for the Brunswick public prosecutor’s office, which handles the German side of the case, told AFP in an interview.

“We must not overestimate this measure adopted by the Portuguese authorities,” said Friedrich Sebastian Fülscher, a lawyer from Kiel (northern Germany), who represents “Christian B.”

Prescription risk

“In Portugal, even a murder prescribes 15 years. In Maddie’s case, if she died in May 2007, this will be the case in a few weeks. I guess the prescription has been interrupted with this measure,” she added.

“What happened is related to the statute of limitations. (…) Ultimately, it is a procedural trick on the part of the prosecution” to keep the case open, said Gonçalo Amaral, a former Portuguese inspector in charge of the case, who was fired from the police after accusing the girl’s parents of accidentally killing her and then hiding her body.

Madeleine McCann, referred to in the British press as “Maddy“, disappeared on May 3, 2007, shortly before his fourth birthday, in Praia da Luz, a seaside resort in the Algarve region, where he was on vacation with his family.

Her disappearance gave rise to an extraordinary international campaign by her parents to try to find her.

The photos of little Maddie, with her brown hair and her big light eyes, went around the world.

Rape and sexual assault on minors

After 14 months of controversial investigations marked by the indictment, and then the exoneration, of the parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, the Portuguese justice closed the case in 2008, before reopening it five years later by the appearance of “new elements”.

However, the case did not really progress until June 2020, when the Brunswick prosecution said it was certain the girl had died, and added that his suspicions fell on a man who was then detained in Kiel on another case.

Christian B..”, currently serving a prison sentence for the 2005 rape of a 72-year-old American woman in southern Portugal, lived at the time of Maddie’s disappearance a few kilometers from the hotel in Praia da Luz where she disappearedaccording to German researchers.

The Brunswick prosecutor’s office has also initiated proceedings against him in another case of rape, that of an Irish woman, and for sexual abuse of minors in Portugal.

“My colleagues are rather working on these other cases so that we can close this chapter in the near future.. When it is finished, we will deal exclusively with Maddie,” Hans Christian Wolters, a spokesman for the Brunswick public prosecutor’s office, told AFP.

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