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Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brückner was jailed for sexually abusing 5-year-old daughter of ex-girlfriend

The 43-year-old convicted German pedophile is currently behind bars on drug offenses and has a lengthy history of sex crimes and other violent offenses
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The prime suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann was arrested and convicted for sexually abusing the five-year-old daughter of a former girlfriend, new documents have revealed.

Christian Brückner, a 43-year-old German pedophile, was named in June as the suspect in the 13-year-old case of Madeleine, who was last seen on the evening on May 3, 2007, in a holiday apartment at a resort in Praia da Luz in the Algarve region of Portugal.

Brückner has a long history of sex crimes and other violent offenses, with Daily Mail on Sunday, August 16, reporting that one of the 43-year-old's crimes saw him assaulting the five-year-old girl in a public park and taking graphic photographs of her. Those photographs were later discovered on his digital camera and laptop when police were investigating him over a separate allegation of domestic violence.

The attack on the young girl took place in 2013 when Brückner was living in Braunschweig, northern Germany. It was around this time that authorities learned he could also be a suspect in Madeleine's disappearance after they were told about him by a caller on the German equivalent of BBC's Crimewatch program. During a raid of his flat, police seized a laptop and other devices on which they found the disturbing photographs of him abusing the victim. After analyzing the images, investigators successfully identified the scene of the attack and the victim, who had moved to another region of Germany with her mother.

However, by this point, Brückner had already fled to the Algarve region in Portugal, where he had been living intermittently since the 90s and had a record of break-ins at hotels and dealing drugs. While German authorities issued an EU-wide warrant for his arrest, it would take Portuguese officials another four years to capture him after they received reports that he had exposed himself to children at a park about 40 miles from Praia da Luz. 

The 43-year-old was subsequently extradited to Germany and sentenced to 15 months behind bars in March 2017. "I can confirm that there was the child abuse case," said Thomas Klinge, the Chief Prosecutor in Hanover. "Christian B was sentenced in 2017 for one year and three months."

Following his release from prison, Brückner was arrested again while living on the streets of Milan in 2018 on a European arrest warrant over the rape of a 72-year-old American woman. He was extradited to Germany again, and one month later, he was convicted of drug dealing in the German resort of Sylt and sentenced to 21 months in prison. In December 2018, a court in Braunschweig convicted him of the rape because DNA from his hair was found in the victim's holiday home.

Brückner has served two-thirds of his drug sentence in Kiel prison, Schleswig-Holstein and his defense lawyers have appealed his rape conviction on the grounds that his extradition from Italy was illegal. Germany's Federal High Court has not yet ruled on the appeal and his seven-year jail term for the conviction will not start until it has, which could mean there is still a possibility that he will walk out of prison again in the coming months.