GERMAN police have to get permission in Italy before charging Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner, the Olive Press has learnt.

The bureaucratic procedure came as they asked the Portuguese police to make Breuckner, 44, an official suspect – a legal term known as an ‘arguido’ in Portugal.

BKA prosecutors in Braunschweig have also informed the German suspect’s lawyer of the process to prosecute him for the disappearance of the British three-year-old, while on holiday in Praia da Luz, on the Algarve in 2007.

They are expecting to formally charge him in the summer, alongside three other cases, the Olive Press can reveal.

This includes the violent rape of Irish 20-year-old Hazel Behan and two other charges of child molestation, one on a beach just a month before Maddie went missing on May 3, 2007.

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Christian Brueckner And Maddie
Christian Brueckner has been made an ‘arguido’ by Portuguese police in case of missing Madeliene Mccann

But before they can issue any charges they need to re-issue official extradition papers from Italy, where he was last arrested in September 2018.

His arrest in Milan came after a paperwork problem had seen him released from prison in Germany while awaiting to serve a sentence for child molesting in 2016.

They had arrested him after he had arrived from Switzerland by train asking to get a new passport at the German consulate. 

Fortunately, he was caught and brought back to Germany, where he was tried and found guilty of raping an American pensioner, also in Praia da Luz, in 2005.

“It is a bureaucratic nightmare and a slow and laborious process,” a German BKA source told the Olive Press on Friday morning. 

“But thankfully the paperwork process has begun and the details of the case have been sent to his lawyer.”

He added: “It is a complicated procedure as due to EU rules they have to go via Italy, which was the last place he was a free man.

“They know if they don’t do it the correct way his lawyer will create more problems and slow things up as he has before. He would definitely play the Italy card.

“They are in the hands of the Italian police now, but are not expecting there to be a problem.”

His lawyer Friedrich Fulscher confirmed he was aware of the legal moves this week.

However, he described it as a ‘procedural trick’ and poured cold water on the moves, insisting his client, currently in Oldenburg prison, had not been charged.

The main reason to make him an official suspect in Portugal is because from next month the statute of limitations of 15 years for murder cases there comes to an end.

The BKA source added: “It is merely a procedural issue at this stage and doesn’t have much meaning. We are not expecting him to be charged until August. And it will be in Germany.

“There is no way that despite making him a suspect in Portugal he will be handed over to the police there. He is a German suspect and in a German prison. He will be tried here.”

It comes after a shock statement was issued at the Faro prosecutors office, on the Algarve, on Thursday afternoon.

It said they had made someone an ‘arguido’ – which translates as ‘named suspect’, ‘formal suspect’ or ‘person of interest’.

They didn’t name him, but German police announced in June 2020 that they had identified a German man called ‘Christian B’.

The German police had managed to connect Brueckner to the rape of Menkes due to a DNA link with one of his hairs found at her beachside home, just 400 metres from where the McCanns were staying.

She had been sadistically beaten and then raped – all recorded on video – by the German.

Jon Clarke With German Prosecutor Wolters.
Jon Clarke with Hans Christian Wolters in 2021.

“By amazing fortune Portuguese police had kept a box of evidence from the rape, which they were able to send to Germany,” BKA prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters told the Olive Press last year.

The Olive Press also revealed in December that German police also had a partial fingerprint match from the rape scene of Hazel Behan, from Praia da Rocha, in 2004.

The Irish girl had also been viciously beaten then raped – all taped by a video camera – by a blond haired man with blue eyes.

The last official suspects in the Maddie case were her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, while a previous suspect had been local British expat Robert Murat a few months before. They were all later cleared.

Declaring someone a person of interest is a necessary step to any criminal charges being brought in Portugal.

Portugal’s Office of Public Prosecutions insisted the move was not driven by timing, but by ‘strong indications’ of a crime. 

Both Brueckner and his lawyer strongly deny any involvement.

He is currently serving a prison sentence for drug offences in Germany and was also given a seven-year term for raping the 72-year-old American Diana Menkes.

Maddie Book

Olive Press editor Jon Clarke released a book My Search for Madeleine last year. The in-depth investigation spoke to dozens of friends and family close to Brueckner, as well as police in three countries.

A new podcast with Clarke and British TV investigator Donal MacIntyre on the case is released on Friday April 22 on Spotify and Apple.

The eight-part series Madeleine McCann: The Chief Suspect, will explore the reasons German police are ‘100 per cent certain’ he is the perpetrator of the crime.

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