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Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner to go on trial over rape and sex assaults

Portuguese police have reportedly apologised to the parents of Madeleine McCann for the way detectives investigated the case and treated the family (PA) (PA Media)
Portuguese police have reportedly apologised to the parents of Madeleine McCann for the way detectives investigated the case and treated the family (PA) (PA Media)

The main suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann is expected to stay silent during his upcoming trial in Germany for unrelated sexual offences, his lawyer has said.

Christian Brueckner is facing five charges for offences which allegedly took place in Portugal between 2000 and 2017, which include the rape and sexual abuse of children.

He has never formally been charged over the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine and was first identified as a suspect by German prosecutors in 2020.

He has denied any involvement but was made a formal suspect by Portuguese prosecutors in 2022.

Madeleine was on holiday with her family at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz in the Algarve area when she went missing from her bedroom on 3 May 2007.

Suspect Christian Brueckner, who is facing trial for unrelated sex offences (ITALIAN CARABINIERI PRESS OFFICE)
Suspect Christian Brueckner, who is facing trial for unrelated sex offences (ITALIAN CARABINIERI PRESS OFFICE)

Her suspected kidnapping has attracted sustained press coverage around the world and has been known as the most heavily reported missing person case in modern history.

While her whereabouts remain unknown, German prosecutors believe she is dead.

Brueckner’s lawyer told the BBC via email that he did not expect his client to make “substantive submissions” during the upcoming trial in Braunschweig, in Lower Saxony, which could span for months.

The five charges he faces include the rape of a young woman after entering her apartment in 2004, the sexual abuse of a child on a beach in 2007 and the sexual abuse of a child in a playground in 2017.

He has also been charged over the alleged rape of a girl believed to be 14 years old at his home in Praia da Luz between 2000 and 2006, as well as the rape of an unidentified woman in her holiday home in Portugal during the same time period.

Public defender Friedrich Fülscher said: “We will see whether the defendant will defend himself in silence or make statements denying individual acts. At the moment, I do not assume that there will be any substantive submissions.”

Madeleine disappeared from her bedroom while on holiday with her family (METROPOLITAN POLICE/AFP via Gett)
Madeleine disappeared from her bedroom while on holiday with her family (METROPOLITAN POLICE/AFP via Gett)

He added that “no negative conclusions” could be drawn from this.

“Whether a defendant declares ‘I have nothing to do with it’, ‘I am innocent’ or the like, or whether he uses his right to remain silent, leads to the same result in criminal proceedings,” said Mr Fülscher.

“So this does not mean that there is something to hide, but is simply due to the fact that it makes sense from a procedural point of view.”

He would however be expected to confirm details such as his name and date of birth.

Brueckner is already serving a seven-year sentence for rape which he committed in Portugal in 2005.