Madeleine McCann 'could still be alive' admits German prosecutor

14 June 2020, 08:20

Madeleine McCann could still be alive says a German prosecutor
Madeleine McCann could still be alive says a German prosecutor. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Madeleine McCann could still be alive according to the German prosecutor who previously suggested she was dead.

A spokesman for the Braunschweig public prosecutor's office in Germany admitted there was a slim hope Madeleine is alive because there is no forensic evidence that she was dead.

On Monday, Hans Christian Wolters said there was some evidence that she was dead but an insufficient amount to initiate a trial.

However, speaking to the Sunday Mirror, Mr Wolters appeared to make a U-turn on this.

"Because there is no forensic evidence, there may be a little bit of hope (that she is alive)," he told the paper.

"We don't want to kill the hope and because there is no forensic evidence it may be theoretically possible.

"I know it's important for the British people when I say she is dead, but I did not know it was so important."

German prosecutors previously said they have "some evidence" that Madeleine is dead
German prosecutors previously said they have "some evidence" that Madeleine is dead. Picture: PA

Madeleine's disappearance from from her bed in a Praia da Luz, Portugal, holiday apartment on 3 May 2007 has sparked new attention after authorities announced they were investigating a 43-year-old convicted German child sex offender.

The suspect, who is currently serving a prison sentence, has been named in reports as Christian Brueckner.

Mr Wolters added that in Germany it was "more normal" to have a murder investigation in similar cases.

In a separate update, Mr Wolters told The Sunday Times prosecutors were looking into the possibility that an employee at the hotel may have assisted the suspect in targeting the McCanns' apartment, knowing they at a nearby restaurant.

Brueckner 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, then three, went missing on 3 May 2007.

There is no suggestion the member of staff knew about Madeleine's kidnap in advance, and Mr Wolters said: "The phone call made by the suspect could be between him and a member of staff who told him when to break into the McCanns' apartment."

He added that officers had not interviewed Brueckner about Madeleine's murder at the time as they had not traced the person who called him.

Mr Wolters told the paper: "The person he spoke to could put the phone in his hand (by confirming that it was definitely Brueckner to whom he spoke), which would mean he was in the area at the time.

"This is the evidence we want before we issue an arrest warrant and then interview him for the murder. It would help the case against him - but we would also need more evidence."

Following the renewed appeal into Madeleine's disappearance, Scotland Yard said its Operation Grange team - the force's active investigation - had received nearly 400 tips.

In the UK, the case is still classed as a missing person inquiry as there is no "definitive evidence whether Madeleine is alive or dead", a police spokesman said.

The young girl, who would have turned 17 last month, disappeared just days before her fourth birthday while her parents were at a nearby tapas restaurant with friends.