Fifteen years after Maddie McCann’s disappearance, the British girl is taken from her bed in a flat in the Algarve on the night of 3 May 2007, the Portuguese judiciary has taken a step forward to try to find a solution to the case: it has identified the alleged perpetrator of the kidnapping, German Christian Bruckner, who has long been behind Bars in a German prison for other crimes. German authorities, at the request of the Portuguese public prosecutor, have indicted 44-year-old Bruckner, who is serving a sentence for drug smuggling in Germany and is being investigated for several other abuses, including the rape of a 72-year-old US citizen and a young woman.
“Although the possibility is remote, we have not lost hope that Madeline is still alive and that we find her,” Kate and Jerry McCann wrote in a note posted to the site on behalf of their daughter.
The little girl was three years old when she was snatched from the room where she slept with her twin brothers, in a tourist complex in Praia da Luz: her parents left her asleep in the bedroom and the couple then moved to dinner in the building’s restaurant but at the same time he supervised the young . The baby was not found despite extensive searches by her parents.
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Suspicions about Bruckner, who was living in Praia da Luz at the time, gained weight when he was extradited from Portugal to Germany in 2017, accused, among other things, of a child sexual abuse case in Greece. An investigation of his movements revealed, from traces of his cell phone, that he was near where the McCanns were staying on the night of Maddie’s abduction. After all, the man has a horrific criminal record to his credit, consisting of sexual assault, physical assaults, robberies and petty crimes, some of which occurred during his stay in Portugal.
In the Algarve, he lived off odd jobs and also from robberies in hotels and apartments. The suspect was identified after a lengthy investigation, in cooperation with British and German authorities. Meanwhile, the Portuguese police investigations, which were not always linear and straightforward, the international campaigns promoted by the McCanns and the disproportionate media attention that followed, turned the case of Madeleine’s disappearance into an issue that had global resonance.
Before Bruckner was indicted, Portuguese police had spent years tracking down leads that led nowhere and raised the mystery. One of those responsible for the investigation even went to court because of a book in which he suggested that the child’s parents were responsible for an accidental murder. This case is certainly one of the great failures of the Portuguese police, which opened more than two thousand files on the disappearance of the child, conducted more than 500 searches in the area, and at one time the number of suspects reached almost twenty.