German police dig up garden near Hanover linked to Madeleine McCann disappearance

28 July 2020, 13:00 | Updated: 29 July 2020, 12:53

Officers digging up the allotment in Hanover linked to Madeleine's disappearance
Officers digging up the allotment in Hanover linked to Madeleine's disappearance. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

German police are searching a garden plot near Hanover linked to Madeleine McCann's disappearance, prosecutors have said.

The "large-scale" police operation is searching an allotment close to where prime suspect Christian Brueckner previously lived, according to local reports.

Madeleine disappeared from her bed in a holiday apartment at a Praia Da Luz resort in the Algarve region of Portugal on the evening of 3 May 2007.

Police are also searching a Linden tree branch channel near the scene, according to German news site Haz.de.

The paper published images that show officers at the scene, however it has not given details on what the police expect to find there.

The operation is understood to be a joint effort between the Braunschweig public prosecutor's office and the Federal Criminal Police Office.

Read more: What year did Madeleine McCann go missing? Important facts and dates to remember

German garden search continues amid Madeleine McCann probe

An operation is under way to search a garden plot linked to Madeleine's disappearance
An operation is under way to search a garden plot linked to Madeleine's disappearance. Picture: PA
Madeleine McCann has been missing since 2007
Madeleine McCann has been missing since 2007. Picture: PA
An excavator has been pictured at the scene of the search
An excavator has been pictured at the scene of the search. Picture: PA

A spokesman for the prosecutor's office said: "I do not comment on the background and aim of this measure."

Video footage appears to show heavy machinery and forensic officers at the scene of the search.

Julia Meyer, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office in Braunschweig, confirmed investigators with an excavator had been working at the site since Monday.

"The procedure is taking place in connection with our investigation regarding Maddie McCann," she said.

Ms Meyer added that she could not give any further details on the operation and that police would "still need some more time to finish."

Madeleine McCann- A timeline of key dates and developments

The investigation into Madeleine's disappearance was renewed in June after German authorities announced they were investigating Brueckner - a convicted German child sex offender - on suspicion of murder.

He is known to have lived on the Algarve coast and his Portuguese mobile phone received a half-hour phone call in Praia da Luz around an hour before Madeleine, who was just three years old, went missing 13 years ago.

Brueckner is in jail in Germany for drug dealing, and is appealing against a conviction for the 2005 rape of a 72-year-old woman, also at Praia da Luz.

The suspect has two previous convictions for "sexual contact with girls", authorities have said.

Although authorities have not released his name, he has been widely identified as Christian Brueckner or Christian B.

He was last registered as living in Germany in the city of Braunschweig, which is about 40 miles from Hannover.

Brueckner has not yet spoken to investigators, who say they are convinced that he has committed other sex attacks.

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