OPINION

Every time a child disappears is an unspeakable tragedy. Unfortunately, it happens all too often. As a consequence, only some cases grab public attention – such as the 2007 disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

McCann’s disappearance without a trace from a Portuguese holiday resort dominated headlines for years afterward. Even today, the tragic story continues to grip our imagination.

The world knew her age, where she was from, where she went missing and the date she disappeared. There had never been such global attention on a missing girl.

But what the world didn’t know was what happened to Madeleine McCann on May 3, 2007, in Portugal’s Algarve coast.

Recent developments suggest the case may finally be coming to a close. Unfortunately, for anyone still holding out hope that McCann is still alive, the new leads are pretty grim.

According to a source close to the Portuguese investigation, authorities were tipped off that prime suspect Christian Brueckner had visited the Algarve reservoir just days after Maddie vanished.

German detectives are understood to have been told by the “very credible” source who knew Brueckner that he had visited the reservoir, an area he called his “little paradise”, in his camper van.

Specialist divers have since examined the Barragem do Arade reservoir near Silves, around 24kms from Praia da Luz, where Maddie went missing in May 2007.

German police have stressed that the new search isn’t based on anything offered by Brueckner, least of all a confession. Brueckner became a suspect in 2020, 13 years after McCann’s disappearance. At the time she disappeared, he was living in a campervan just kilometres away. He has a history of sexually abusing children.

German police have claimed they have substantial evidence linking Brueckner to Maddie, including a confession he allegedly made to a friend while drinking at a bar.

He has repeatedly denied any involvement with her disappearance.

NZ Herald

Among the new evidence is a Hotmail email account and hard drive belonging to Brueckner, which German police say are “related to the killing”.

“An external hard drive also belonging to the killing case, and I am not allowed to talk about it,” [Titus Stampa, a police detective] told a court in Braunschweig, in comments reported by the Daily Mirror, during a trial of Brueckner on unrelated sex offences.

He declined to give any further details, such as of any photographs or video files which implicated Brueckner, who was identified in 2020 by German authorities as a suspect in the case of McCann’s disappearance.

The apparent reason for police reticence regarding the account is that it also relates to a different criminal case. But Stampa also described a second email account that Brueckner used to share child abuse content with other predators.

He told the court that Brueckner had deleted all the emails in that account dating to early 2007, when Madeleine vanished from a hotel resort in Praia da Luz, in Portugal.

“I can remember that things were massively deleted in the inbox. There was nothing in there from January 2007,” he told the court in Braunschweig.

Stampa also referred to an email allegedly written by Brueckner involving a fantasy of a young girl and her mother being kidnapped and abused. “It was about violence and brutality and them being abused sexually,” he said.

German prosecutors also say that phone records show Brueckner receiving a call on May 3 2007 near the Ocean Club resort, where the McCann family had been staying. He insists he was several miles away with a young woman at the time

NZ Herald

Brueckner is currently serving a seven-year sentence for raping an American pensioner in the very resort town where McCann vanished. He is currently on trial in Braunschweig on three charges of rape and two charges of child sexual abuse that are unrelated to the McCann disappearance.

Brueckner’s lawyers say he denies the current charges, as he has denied any involvement in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

So, for the time being, justice remains out of reach for Madeleine McCann and her grieving parents.

Punk rock philosopher. Liberalist contrarian. Grumpy old bastard. I grew up in a generational-Labor-voting family. I kept the faith long after the political left had abandoned it. In the last decade...