By Jon Clarke in Faro
MADELEINE McCann could have been brought up as a German.
The British toddler, who was snatched at the age of three while on a family holiday in the Algarve, may have been kept by a group of Germans and never left Portugal.
The sensational claim is to be made in a Portuguese national TV documentary tonight.
In the incredible claims, a Portuguese teacher will tell the show ‘Sexta as 9’ programme that she is convinced she saw Maddie as a teenager in 2017.
“She told me she is sure she is alive,” RTP journalist Sandra Felgueiras, who anchors the Panorama-style show, revealed.
“It’s an amazing interview and the Portuguese police are not discounting it. They say it is not impossible,” she told the Olive Press.
“In fact they have confirmed to me that a line of investigation has been opened on the sighting,” she added.
The claims centre around the female teacher, named Maria, who is convinced that she saw a 13-year-old Madeleine in a supermarket on the Algarve, in July 2017.
She became convinced a week ago when she discovered that the supermarket Apolonia, in Praia da Gale, near Albufeira, was just 200m from where main suspect Christian Brueckner and his then-girlfriend Nicole Fehlinger, both German, were accused of stealing €100,000 in November 2007.
The teacher, who studied German, said she had been standing three feet from the girl in the supermarket and had a very good look at her.
“I remember perfectly as I looked her straight in the eye, they were blue, maybe a little green, but I completely fixed on the right eye and its imperfection.”
She said the girl was speaking German to an older teenager and she had tried to spy on them from behind some shelves wanting to find out if they were alone.
“I remember they left the shop with nothing in their hands, I specifically remember that,” she will tell the show tonight.
She added, intriguingly that she had also seen Brueckner’s distinctive yellow and white VW van in the car park outside.
She says she has now filed her information to the Portuguese PJ police force, who are looking into the sighting.
Frustratingly, the policy of the supermarket is to erase all digital video surveillance at the end of each month.
But what is certain is that Brueckner and Fehlinger were both accused of being behind the robbery of a house just 200 metres up the road on November 4, 2007.
Fehlinger had been working as a babysitter/nanny for the family, who had a hyperactive child.
She had been located by the family via an advert in a local newspaper and on the day had driven them to a birthday party of Fehlinger’s daughter in Foral, some 20kms inland.
They insisted that only Fehlinger knew about €100,000 they kept in a bag in the house and that she had tipped off her ‘accomplice’ Christian to rob the house, while they were at the party.
While police investigated both of them – and Fehlinger admitted she HAD called Brueckner that day – neither of them were charged.
At the time, Fehlinger had been getting paid €1,300 to €1,500 a month to look after troubled German teenagers by a local association.
She rented a villa in Foral directly north of Albufeira for many years, where Brueckner would frequently stay.
She and Brueckner were in a relationship at the time, claimed the victims and locals, and they both come from the same town, Wurzburg, in Germany.
He even bragged to her father Dieter on a visit from Germany that he could smuggled drugs and children in a Winnebago-style van he owned.
His best friend in Portugal, Michael Tatschl, who lived with him in Praia da Luz and spent eight months in prison with him, is convinced he snatched Madeleine and bought the van with the money he made, perhaps from videos of her.
He told the Olive Press last month: “I know he did it. He was a pervert and a very strange man.”
He said he spent considerable amounts of time on the ‘dark web’ probably selling drugs and pornography.
A child psychologist Ana Vasconcelos will tell the program tonight that it is entirely possible that she could have been brought up by an ‘alien’ family.
She likened the possibility to the case of Natacha Kampus who was snatched and brought up by a foreign family.
She also insisted it would be ‘entirely possible’ for Madeleine to get over the trauma.