A German man has been named as a formal suspect in the disappearance of British child Madeleine McCann 15 years ago, Portuguese prosecutors have said.
Christian Brueckner, who is currently serving a prison sentence in Germany for raping a US tourist, has been named as an “arguido”, the Portuguese term for a person officially suspected of a crime but that has not been arrested or charged.
The German national’s lawyer confirmed that his client has not been charged in relation the case.
Madeleine, then aged three years old, disappeared on May 3rd 2007 from a resort in Praia da Luz, Portugal. Her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, were named as official suspects in the case later that year before being eventually cleared.
The latest development is the first time a suspect has been officially named since then, with speculation that the timing of the move is due to legal restrictions in Portugal.
Under the Portuguese statute of limitations, charges for crimes with a maximum prison sentence of 10 years or more have to be brought within 15 years of the offence, and with the date rapidly approaching this could be the last opportunity for prosecutors to hold someone accountable for the crime.
Prosecutors in Faro said the investigation has been carried out with cooperation from British and German authorities, and thanked them for their assistance.
The development could pave the way for extradition proceedings to bring Brueckner to Portugal for formal questioning.