HE had just finished a light lunch in solitary confinement at Oldenburg Prison when five men pulled him over and ushered him into a side room.
As shocked as his fellow inmates and with his lawyer opting not to attend, Christian Brueckner, 45, had to think quickly.
The convicted paedophile and rapist opted to say nothing, crossing his arms and staring at the five policemen – two Portuguese and three Germans – who were finally grilling a man over one of the world’s most baffling crimes.
Describing himself as the ‘most known bad person in the world’, Brueckner is certainly globally famous going on the dozen-plus interview requests I have fielded from as far as Australia and Chile over the last ten days.
I have always thought Maddie was abducted and my heart missed a beat on hearing the recent announcement that Brueckner was now an official suspect, particularly having recently put him on the cover of a book I published on the case last year.
It has been a long time in coming since a German prosecutor announced in June 2020 that ‘Christian B’ was the ‘prime suspect’ in the abduction of Madeleine McCann.
While the wheels of justice might seem to be grinding slowly, the German prosecutors have been working hard to get their ducks in a line before charging their dangerous felon with more crimes.
For the last six years between 10 and 100 German officers have been tasked with bringing him to justice.
In Braunschweig alone – where the Madeleine investigation began in 2016 – they have been probing him on at least six separate crimes, I can reveal.
Lead prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters is imminently planning to lay four charges at his door, three involving children and one the vicious rape of a 20-year-old Irish girl.
He and his co-prosecutor Uta Lindemann have ‘nearly everything they need’ to bring a murder charge over Madeleine, who went missing at the age of three (she would be 18 today) from her holiday home in Praia da Luz, on the Algarve, on May 3, 2007.
That the Portuguese also now think he is guilty of the crime is nothing more than a convenient side-show in the world-famous missing person case.
Naming him as an ‘arguido’ (which translates as ‘person of interest’ or ‘official suspect’) on April 20, means the magnifying glass zooms ever closer on his movements in early 2007.
The Portuguese police now have years to continue probing him and don’t have to worry about the statute of limitations running out as they otherwise would have on May 4, which will be 15 years since the crime.
Being able to get into prison and talk to the suspect was a major coup for the pair of PJ officers sent by the Portimao Justice department.
Their investigation is being led by the DIAP in Faro (Portimao section) with the assistance of the Judiciary Police (PJ), and ‘with the cooperation of the English and German authorities’.
They had been negotiating for months to visit Brueckner at the prison and were joined by three detectives from the German BKA police headquarters, in Wiesbaden.
While going through accepted Europol procedures, there is ‘no way’ the Germans are going to allow him to be extradited to Portugal.
“All the good police work that established him as the prime suspect happened here and he will definitely be charged by the German authorities,” explained a BKA source.
“We are currently going through the official extradition paperwork with Italy, where he was last a free man. It will take a couple of months.”
The interview at Oldenburg prison – dubbed ‘Germany’s Alcatraz’ for its incredibly high-security – lasted ‘just over an hour’.
“The Portuguese turned up with a list of 20 questions, but he refused to answer a single one,” added the source..
It came as ‘a massive surprise’ for Brueckner when he walked out of lunch (he eats alone, exercises for one hour alone and meets no other prisoners) and was confronted by the group.
His lawyer Friedrick Fulcher had been advised of the interview and charges. “But he said he did not have time to go, it was too far away and it would ‘not change anything anyway’,” added the source.
He later told Bild newspaper however, that it was merely a ‘procedural issue’ and the media should not ‘overestimate’ the moves.
But I believe it would be foolish to underestimate them. Making Brueckner an official suspect will help to stem the cynical whispering campaign by the thousands of trolls, who still believe the parents are guilty of killing their daughter.
The former chief of police who led the original investigation, Goncalo Amaral, still implies they are guilty and even wrote a best-selling book on his beliefs.
It is little known that the ex-detective was made an arguido – and later convicted for corruption and the covering up of a beating of a false confession – over another missing child case just ONE day before Maddie went missing.
This is the man whose force failed to close the border for 48 hours and failed to stop over two dozen people traipsing through the crime scene over the first 12 hours.
The facts today point the finger directly at Brueckner.
As I laid them out in my book, he has not only confessed his links to the crime to a number of former friends, girlfriends and associates, he was on the phone for half an hour in the vicinity of the abduction less than two hours before Maddie went missing.
In addition, he knew well and regularly burgled the Ocean Club holiday complex she was staying at and kept dozens of stolen passports, watches and wallets at his home, just outside Praia da Luz.
According to one girlfriend of the time, he went on a long journey north that night in his winnebago, a vehicle in which he claimed he could smuggle children ‘in a secret compartment’.
One of his flatmates Micha Tatschl (who later became a cell mate) told me he spent a lot of time on the dark web and regularly ‘talked about snatching children and selling them in Morocco’. And then he was caught telling a friend in a Skype chat that he ‘wanted to trap’ a small child and keep her for days.
And let’s not forget that a few years ago police dug up a stash of ‘up to 20,000’ pictures, videos and other documents, some almost certainly linked to the case, at an isolated box factory, owned by Brueckner in Lower Saxony.
Crucially, he himself appeared in some of the videos that involved rape, bestiality and child porn.
And his most recent conviction was for the sadistic rape of an American pensioner, 72, in her home in Praia da Luz, which he carried out on film, in 2005.
He got seven years after being caught when police matched a hair of his at the villa, which is just 500 metres from the Ocean Club.
The list goes on, but Brueckner has been prosecuted at least 17 times – twice for child sex abuse – and probably should have been many more times.
I’ve been investigating this sadistic narcissist for 22 months now and carefully catalogued his sick and sordid life, but maybe the last word should go to Brueckner himself.
A man keener to use the media than proper legal channels to prove his innocence, his so-called ‘alibi’ will be announced in a documentary set to air on Spain’s AMC crime channel on May 3.
And in one letter, published by Mail Online last week, he wrote: “I made some silly mistakes when I was younger but who hasn’t?”
Then referring to the Maddie case he continued: “Perhaps I was a suspect after all they found out about me. Drug dealer, breaking into houses, living in cars and there was something with kids when I was 17.”
It is, as if, from the age of 18, when he became an adult he suddenly became a fine upstanding human being.
Fortunately the German police don’t believe his alibi and as well as having a dozen key witnesses, they also have some sort of document that proves his guilt.
It is why Hans Christian Wolters says he is ‘100% certain’ he is guilty and why I’m convinced it this evidence will soon damn him to eternity and once and for all solve this abhorrent, pernicious crime that has troubled the world for a decade and a half.
My Search for Madeleine, by Jon Clarke, can be bought on all Amazon platforms in both digital and print formats.
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