FOOTAGE has emerged of Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner driving a battered VW campervan across Spain soon before the little girl disappeared.
The convicted sex-offender is seen laughing and joking in the T3 Westfalia, which has long been regarded as a potentially vital piece of evidence in the case.
In the video clip released by the Mail Online he is seen giving three young German travellers a lift from Malaga on the Costa del Sol to Vera in Almeria.
He had started his journey from his base in Praia da Luz before taking the trio on board. Just five weeks later, on May 3, 2007, Maddie vanished from an apartment in the Portuguese resort.
One of the men in the video, identified only as Tomas, told the Mail Online of his horror when years later he realised that the ‘good Samaritan’ who had given him and his two friends a lift was in fact a convicted rapist and the prime suspect in the Maddie case.
The three people – two prize winners and a DJ – had accepted a German radio station challenge to transport a caravan trailer from Faro in the Algarve to a destination in the German region of Saxony, surviving on just €10 a day. They could only use vans and trucks to tow the caravan that were volunteered by members of the public.
Brueckner got involved when a friend tipped off the trio that he might be able to help. The then 30-year-old told the men he sold cars in Portugal and had borrowed the Westfalia.
For the past few days German police – who say they believe Maddie is dead – have been excavating a vegetable plot in Hannover to uncover a ‘secret cellar’.
The sensational claim was made in a Portuguese national TV documentary.
In the incredible claims, a Portuguese teacher told the ‘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, 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.