Rape charges against Madeleine McCann suspect dropped by German court
Rape and sexual offence charges against the prime suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have been thrown out of a German court.
Convicted paedophile Christian Brueckner, who has been formally identified as an official suspect in the Madeleine McCann case, will no longer face a possible rape trial after a Braunschweig court deemed itself not to have jurisdiction over the case.
The court’s decision means that legal authorities in Braunschweig have no jurisdiction over Madeleine’s case, who disappeared in Portugal in 2007 aged three, lawyer Friedrich Fuelscher said in an email to Reuters.
The court lifted the arrest warrant against him, Bild reported.
German prosecutors last year said they had charged Brueckner with three offences of aggravated rape and two offences of sexual abuse of children in Portugal between December 28, 2000, and June 11, 2017.
The charges were not directly linked to the McCann case, but having thrown them out and revoked the warrant, the court could no longer be expected to consider the latter case either.
Brueckner, a convicted child abuser and drug trader who is behind bars in Germany for raping a 72-year-old woman in the same area of the Algarve region of Portugal from where Madeleine went missing, was formally identified as an official suspect in the McCann case last year.
Fuelscher did not say when Brueckner was due to be released or whether the court decision would affect that.
German police said in June 2020 that Madeleine was assumed dead and that Brueckner was likely responsible for it. Brueckner has denied being involved in the disappearance and has not been charged with any crime related to it.
The Braunschweig state court said its supposed responsibility for the case being in the area had been based on his last residence before going abroad and then to prison.
But it said that is not valid, because the suspect produced evidence of a later residence in the neighbouring state of Saxony-Anhalt, where he was registered as the owner of a property that he kept after going abroad.
The court said that, as a result of its decision, it has lifted an arrest warrant it issued for Bruckner in November.
It said in a statement that this has no influence on Bruckner completing his current sentence.
The court said that its decision can be appealed to a higher court in Braunschweig.
State prosecutors are yet to comment.
Investigators believe the 45-year-old killed Madeleine, then three, after abducting her from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 3 2007.
Brueckner, who has reportedly denied any involvement in the case, was identified as a suspect in the McCann case by Portuguese officials in June 2020.
It came after Kate and Gerry McCann said they were “naturally disappointed” at losing their legal battle against a retired Portuguese detective who claimed they were somehow involved in their daughter going missing.
Lawyers for Madeleine’s parents had argued that Portuguese authorities had breached their right to respect for a private and family life in the way the courts there dealt with their libel claims against Goncalo Amaral.
He claimed in a book, TV documentary and newspaper interview that the McCanns were involved in their daughter’s disappearance.