Madeleine McCann went missing, aged just three-years-old, when she was on a family holiday at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz, in Portugal, and despite the huge manhunt, she’s never been found
The man named by German prosecutors as prime suspect in the 2007 disappearance of Madeleine McCann is expected to stay silent in an unrelated rape trial in Germany.
Christian Brückner has, for the past few years, been identified as the main suspect in the disappearance of the three-year-old British girl. In 2022, Portuguese prosecutors identified him as possibly linked after it emerged he had been driving around Praia da Luz resort, in Portugal, at the time the child went missing.
German prosecutors had previously identified him as a suspect two years prior, in 2020, but only named him as Christian B at the time. Brückner has always denied any involvement in her disappearance, and is already in jail for the rape of a 72-year-old woman.
He’s now due back in court in eight days time, on February 16, accused of five further offences between 2000 and 2017. Little Madeleine, from Rothley, Leicestershire, had been on holiday with her family at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz, in Portugal, when she disappeared on May 3, 2007. Despite an extensive manhunt, she’s never been found.
Brückner’s lawyer told the BBC that his client, he thought, would not make “substantive submissions” during the upcoming trial for rape in Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, which could last for months. Friedrich Fülscher, a public defender, said: “We will see whether the defendant will defend himself in silence or make statements denying individual acts. At the moment, I do not assume that there will be any substantive submissions.”
The lawyer added that “no negative conclusions” could be drawn from his silence. He continued: “Whether a defendant declares ‘I have nothing to do with it’, ‘I am innocent’ or the like, or whether he uses his right to remain silent, leads to the same result in criminal proceedings.
“So this does not mean that there is something to hide, but is simply due to the fact that it makes sense from a procedural point of view.”
Brückner is still expected to confirm such details as his name and date of birth. The five offences that Brückner is charged with are alleged to have taken place over the seventeen-year period, from 2000 to 2017, and including the rape and sexual abuse of children.
The five charges he faces include:
The rape of an elderly woman aged between 70 and 80 in her holiday home in Portugal at some point between 2000 and 2006
The rape of a girl believed to have been at least 14 years old at his home in Praia da Luz at some point between 2000 and 2006
The rape of a young woman after entering her apartment in 2004
The sexual abuse of a child on a beach in 2007
The sexual abuse of a child in a playground in 2017
A previous ruling found that the court in Braunschweig had no jurisdiction over the case – but this was later overturned. It’s the region where Brückner was last officially registered. If convicted of these offences it is likely that Brückner will stays behind bars at the end of his current seven-year rape sentence.