German suspect in McCann case charged in separate assaults

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FILE – This image distributed on June 8, 2020, by Carabinieri (Italian paramilitary police), shows a man identified as Christian Brueckner, at the time of his arrest in 2018, under an international warrant for drug trafficking and on charges of other crimes. German prosecutors on Tuesday Oct. 11, 2022 charged a 45-year-old German man, who is also a suspect in the disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann, with several sexual offenses he is alleged to have committed in Portugal between 2000 and 2017. (Carabinieri via AP, File)

BERLIN (AP) — German prosecutors on Tuesday charged a 45-year-old German man, who is also a suspect in the disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann, with several sexual offenses he is alleged to have committed in Portugal between 2000 and 2017.

“The accused is the same person who is under investigation in connection with the disappearance of the then 3-year-old British girl Madeleine Beth McCann on May 3, 2007, from an apartment complex in Praia da Luz in Portugal on suspicion of murder,” Braunschweig prosecutors said in a statement.

The suspect spent many years in Portugal, including in Praia da Luz around the time of Madeleine’s disappearance. He has denied any involvement in her disappearance.

The suspect, identified by media as Christian Brueckner, is currently serving a 7-year prison sentence for a rape he also committed in Portugal in 2005. On Tuesday he was charged with three counts of aggravated rape and two counts of sexual abuse of children.

At an unspecified time between 2000 and 2006, the suspect allegedly tied up and raped an elderly woman in her vacation apartment in Portugal in her bedroom. He allegedly beat the victim several times with a whip and recorded the entire incident on video.

During the same time period, the accused is alleged to have tied up an unknown, German-speaking naked girl aged at least 14 years at his residence in Praia da Luz to a wooden post in the living room. First, he allegedly beat the girl with a whip and then he brutally forced her to perform oral sex. The accused also videotaped this act.

In June 2004, the defendant allegedly gained access at night to the apartment of a then-20-year-old woman from Ireland via the balcony in Praia da Rocha. The sleeping woman was then awakened by the masked suspect at knifepoint and raped. Subsequently, the accused tied the woman to a table and gagged her and raped her again. He then whipped the victim on the back and forcibly performed oral sex on her. The accused filmed large parts of the events with a video camera he had brought.

In April 2007, the defendant allegedly ambushed a 10-year-old German girl playing on the beach at Salema in the district of Faro in Portugal, wearing only shoes and otherwise naked. He grabbed the child by the wrist and masturbated, forcing the girl to watch him.

In June 2017, the suspect made eye contact with an 11-year-old Portuguese girl on a playground in Bartolomeu de Messines in Portugal. Then the suspect began masturbating until the frightened girl ran to her father who called police. They subsequently arrested the accused.

Prosecutors said that the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann continues despite the latest indictment but they did not present any new investigative results in her case.

The long-running case of McCann, who vanished shortly before her fourth birthday, has intrigued Britain for years. Her parents say Madeleine went missing after they had left her asleep in their holiday complex while they had dinner with friends at a nearby restaurant.

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