German man linked to Madeleine McCann's disappearance made 'formal suspect'

21 April 2022, 21:55 | Updated: 22 April 2022, 07:46

Madeleine McCann disappeared in 2007
Madeleine McCann disappeared in 2007. Picture: Getty

A German man linked to Madeleine McCann's disappearance 15 years ago has been made "a formal suspect" by authorities in Portugal.

Sensational reports from Germany claimed Christian Brueckner had been made an 'arguido' or official suspect in the case.

The move to make Brueckner an 'arguido' could be linked to the upcoming 15 year anniversary of the girl's disappearance because Portugal has a 15-year limit on murder charges.

An 'arguido' - normally translated as 'named suspect' or 'formal suspect' - is someone who is treated by Portuguese police as more than a witness but has not been arrested or charged.

The Met Police are still treating Madeleine's disappearance as a missing persons inquiry.

The decision to officially designate Brueckner a suspect should allow enquiries to continue.

Friedrich Fuelscher, the lawyer for Brueckner, said: "The step taken by the Portuguese authorities should not be overrated.

Read more: Madeleine McCann case to close after 11 years and chief suspect may not be charged

"Without knowing the Portuguese legal situation in detail, I assume that this measure is a procedural artifice to stop the statute of limitations threatening in a few days."

Last month, it was reported that the Met Police's investigation into Maddie's disappearance was due to close after 11 years.

Operation Grange began four years after the three-year-old vanished in Portugal in 2007.

The Met has asked for a grant to keep the operation running to September. The case could always be reopened later if new evidence emerged.

Madeleine, from Leicester, disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3 2007.

Shortly after she disappeared Kate and Gerry, from Rothley, Leicestershire, were also made arguidos in the case and questioned at length several times before they were cleared of any involvement.

Portuguese police chief Gonçalo Amaral who led the initial investigation and ordered the couple to be made official suspects was later taken off the case.

Brueckner is currently serving seven years in Oldenburg prison, northern Germany, after being convicted of raping a 72-year-old woman in 2005 in Praia da Luz.