Madeleine McCann suspect seeks to overturn conviction for raping 72-year-old woman over wrongful extradition

Madeleine McCann suspect seeks to overturn conviction for raping 72-year-old woman over wrongful extradition
(German Police, Getty Images)

A man suspected of kidnapping and killing Madeleine McCann, who went missing on the evening of May 3, 2007, has demanded release from jail in an appeal against his conviction for the rape of a 72-year-old woman. Christian Brückner’s lawyers have reportedly put his appeal before a panel of five judges at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg, arguing that his current sentence should be overturned because it was not the crime for which he was extradited from Portugal for.

Brückner was sentenced for seven years for brutally attacking an American pensioner in 2005 in Praia da Luz, Portugal. It is the same Portuguese district where the three-year-old Madeleine disappeared. However, now his lawyers have claimed that Brückner was extradited in 2017 by German police using a European Arrest Warrant over child molestation charges, but he was convicted for the attack on the pensioner. They said it was a breach of international law since Portugal’s government is required to give its consent for him to be extradited for one crime but then convicted of another.

“People extradited by an EU Member State on the basis of a European arrest warrant may not be prosecuted, convicted or subjected to a detention order for an act committed before surrender other than that which is the basis of the surrender,” according to the Law on International Mutual Assistance. The verdict in the hearing is expected to be released in the coming weeks.

Earlier this year, the German national was named as the prime suspect in the missing case of Madeleine from Praia da Luz in 2007. He became the accused after mobile data showed he was in the area when the child went missing. Authorities also said that Brückner between the year 1995 to 2007, lived in the Algarve region and worked casual jobs in the gastronomy business. Besides, to fund his lifestyle, he reportedly committed crimes, including thefts in hotel complexes and apartments, as well as drug dealing. German investigators believe that Brückner killed Madeleine after abducting her from a holiday apartment. They are treating the case as a murder investigation. Chief public prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters, who is leading the investigation, said the verdict of the ECJ hearing could mean that Brückner’s rape conviction is canceled.

However, he also mentioned that even if the man, who is also eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of a 21-month sentence for drug trafficking, wins the case, he won’t be released from prison. “The defense seeks to have the rape conviction overturned by the Federal Court of Justice – Germany’s supreme court. The defense can achieve this if the ECJ considers Portugal's consent to have been necessary,” Wolters added.

Meanwhile, another report has said that Madeleine’s parents -- Kate and Gerry McCann -- would be hugely “disappointed but not totally surprised” if the German authorities drop the disappearance case of Madeleine due to lack of evidence. The update comes after it has been reported that investigators have spent more than a month making desperate appeals for information to link Brückner to Madeleine’s kidnapping, but have not found any vital evidence.

“It looks like the latest suspect could be ruled out because there is not sufficient evidence to charge him which would be a huge embarrassment to the German authorities and very disappointing but not a total surprise to Kate and Gerry,” a friend of the McCanns told MailOnline. “It had initially appeared such a vital and solid lead, and the breakthrough they had been dreaming of, but there seems to be a lack of any real evidence.”

The friend added: “Kate and Gerry have had their hopes raised and dashed so many times before. All they want is answers and to find out what happened to their daughter after more than 13 years. It is a very frustrating and difficult time for them.”

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