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Madeleine McCann police seize 'a number of items' after reservoir search in Portugal
1 June 2023, 09:30 | Updated: 2 June 2023, 02:34
Police who carried out fresh searches in the Madeleine McCann investigation near a reservoir in Portugal have said they seized ‘a number of items’.
The Braunschweig Public Prosecutor's Office said: "The search operation carried out last week in the area of the Trade reservoir in Portugal ended on Thursday after three days as planned.
"A previously precisely defined area along the reservoir was completely searched for possible evidence.
"A number of items were seized as part of the operation. These will be evaluated in the coming days and weeks.
"It is not yet possible to say whether some of the items are actually related to the Madeleine McCann case."
Last week it was reported in Portuguese media that a ‘relevant clue’ had been found.
Soil and other items were sent for forensic tests in Germany after a three-day joint operation with Portuguese authorities.
The prime suspect in the case, Christian Brückner, described the location as a ‘paradise’ and a witness reported a sighting of him there in the days after Maddie’s disappearance.
The investigation centred on a promontory at the Barragem do Arade reservoir, about 30 miles from the holiday resort of Praia da Luz, from which Madeleine vanished days before her fourth birthday in May 2007.
Police searched a picnic spot in an area of remote woodland. Debris and soil were removed from the site and eight holes around 2ft deep were drilled, suggesting officers were looking for buried items or soil samples.
According to the Correio da Manga newspaper, a ‘relevant clue’ was found.
Another area of woodland was searched with several further small holes dug by police.
The Portuguese Polícia Judiciária said: “The steps requested by the German authorities have been carried out . . . which resulted in the collection of some material which will be subject to the competent expertise.”
Police said the three-day search had "resulted in the collection of some material", and would "be handed over to the German authorities".
German investigators believe their prime suspect, convicted sex offender Brueckner, kidnapped and murdered Madeleine McCann.
He is in prison in Germany for the rape of a woman in Praia da Luz in 2005, and is suspected of further rapes and child sexual abuse committed in the area between 2000 and 2017.
He has reportedly denied any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance.
Madeleine was three when she vanished while on holiday with her parents in Praia da Luz, after they left her and her younger twin siblings asleep in their apartment while they went out to dinner with friends.
Portuguese lawyer Marcos Aragao Correia previously claimed that criminal contacts had told him that Madeleine's body was in the reservoir, and in 2008 he raised funds for unsuccessful private searches of the water.
The new searches came as the Home Office granted an extra £110,000 in funding this financial year for the Metropolitan Police to assist with finding Madeleine, down from just over £300,000 last year.
The total funding given to Operation Grange has been just under £13.1 million since 2011.