Thirteen years after Maddie’s disappearance, hope of lifting the mystery

Thirteen years after the disappearance of the small Briton Madeleine McCann in Portugal, the identification of a suspect for “murder”, a German already condemned for pedophilia, raises the hope of finally knowing the truth.

Marking a new development in this news story, German police announced Wednesday to investigate this new suspect and launched a call for witnesses. He is a 43-year-old German recidivist pedophile, currently imprisoned in Kiel, in the north of his country for drug trafficking.

Hans Christian Wolters, spokesperson for the Brunswick prosecutor’s office, said that the 40-something man was suspected of murder. “We assume the little girl is dead,” he said in a press statement.

He described the suspect, presented as “Christian B.”, as “a sex offender who has already been convicted on several occasions, including being convicted of child sexual abuse, among other things”.

Madeleine McCann disappeared from her room on May 3, 2007, a few days before her fourth birthday, in the small seaside resort of Praia da Luz, in the south of Portugal, where she was staying on vacation with her family.

The girl’s parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, “just want to know what happened to their daughter, find out the truth and bring the perpetrators to justice,” BBC spokesperson Clarence Mitchell said. “There has never been anything so clear, not from one police force, but from three police forces.”

“They have not given up hope of finding her alive, despite the time gone by. (…) But they are realistic and say that, whatever the outcome of this call for witnesses (…), they need to know to find peace, “he added.

“Significant” progress

According to German police, “Christian B.” lived for several years in the Algarve, in the south of Portugal, between 1995 and 2007.

He identified through “close collaboration” between the German, British and Portuguese police, following information received by the British after an appeal on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the disappearance.

After 14 months of controversial investigations, marked in particular by the indictment of the girl’s parents before they were whitewashed, then the dismissal of the inspector in charge of the investigation, the Portuguese police had closed the case in 2008 before reopening the file five years later.

British police had opened their own investigation in July 2013. For its part, the Portuguese justice authorities indicated that they are continuing the investigation and that they are interviewing witnesses as part of the investigation.

According to German police, there are indications that the suspect also made a living by “committing crimes, including burglaries in hotel complexes and holiday apartments”, as well as drug trafficking. Police do not rule out the possibility that “Christian B.” broke into the McCanns’ apartment for theft and once there decided to kidnap the little girl.

The call for information relates in particular to two telephone numbers as well as two vehicles which it would have used: a dark Jaguar XJR 6 registered in Augsburg, in Bavaria, and a white and yellow Volkswagen T3 van Westfalia with a Portuguese plate.

British police, who described the suspect as a slim, short-haired white man about 1.80 meters in 2007, said he would have lived in the van “for days, if not weeks” and that he may have used it on May 3, 2007, the day of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance.

Several British newspapers quote comments made last year by ex-investigative police officer Goncalo Amaral. He then said that the investigators were again focusing on a German pedophile, who had been removed from the list of suspects in 2008 and who had brought up Madeleine in online discussions.

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