14 Apr, 2024 @ 21:32
4 mins read

EXCLUSIVE: Child victim of a sex assault in Portugal recognises Madeleine Mccann suspect Christian Brueckner in the courtroom

Christian Brueckner during his ongoing trial in Germany (COPYRIGHT OLIVE PRESS SPAIN)

By Jon Clarke and Rainer Burkard, in Braunschweig

IT was something of a seminal moment in the mammoth ongoing trial of seasoned sex offender Christian Brueckner.

But it was missed by almost everyone in the courtroom this week.

The moment came when an 18-year-old Portuguese girl was giving evidence, via a video feed, from Portugal.

The girl, Inés VP, had just told the court in Braunschweig how she had seen the paedophile at a children’s play park masturbating while looking straight at her.

Christian Brueckner during his ongoing trial in Germany (COPYRIGHT OLIVE PRESS SPAIN)

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It was well after midnight in her local town Sao Bartolomeu de Messines’ annual feria and – then aged 11 – it had understandably terrified her.

In tears, she told the court how she had rushed to tell her father, a mechanic Vítor P, who – along with friends, including an off duty police officer – had managed to apprehend Brueckner, who was being sought on a European Arrest Warrant.

It was then, though, after giving her testimony that the screen immediately switched to the defence team of the paedophile, who sat on the far left of the court bench.

“The man is sitting there on the left,” exclaimed the Portuguese teenager, before breaking into tears again.

It had not been sought, nor asked for by the judge, but her reaction was ‘immediate and honest’, explained a Portuguese-speaking member of the public, who has been attending the trial.

The playground where Brueckner is said to have exposed himself to children. Photo: Olive Press

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“She was clearly very traumatised by the incident,” added the former expat, who lived for years in Spain and Portugal.

In testimonies that lasted for over three hours on Friday, her father then explained how he and other parents had apprehended Brueckner.

Vitor P said the sex offender claimed he had been urinating at the play park in the centre of Messines, near where Brueckner lived for a number of years.

But when a group went over to look they could find no evidence of liquid anywhere.

The mechanic recalled how his daughter had run up saying ‘there is a man under the slide and he has shown me his intimate parts’.

“She told me he got his private parts out and there were children there.”

He said he had gone over and grabbed him and ‘asked him a few times’ what he was doing and ‘what it was all about’ but he didn’t respond.

He added that other children had also seen Brueckner’s genitals that evening.

It was while holding him that the off-duty police officer called her station and they came down and arrested him.

While he claimed he didn’t have ID on him, the arresting officer told the Olive Press two years ago that he had his driving licence on him, and when they put his name into the central computer they found he was being sought by Europol over a separate child abuse offence in Germany.

The teenager’s testimony started soon after 9.30am speaking on a video link from a police station on the Algarve.

In harrowing testimony she told the court how she had immediately run to her father to tell him about the man, who was masturbating just metres from her in June 2017. 

“I told him what had happened. He had his hand on his penis and was moving it back and forth. 

“He was looking straight into my face, I was on the swing and he was looking right at me – with his pants down…There is no way he was just peeing!”

A Portuguese police officer sitting next to her reminded the Braunschweig regional court that the young woman could be ‘traumatised’ by in-depth cross examination. 

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RAT’S LAIR: Brueckner’s rented home in nearby Praia da Luz. copyright Olive Press Spain

But this didn’t stop Brueckner’s defence lawyer Friedrich Fulscher from asking numerous questions about the difference between urinating and masturbating. Was it possible she knew the difference? 

Did she know men had to shake their private parts after going to the loo to expel the final urine, a question that had his client Brueckner sniggering.

It was an excruciating cross examination and he didn’t let up, leaving the girl in floods of tears.

Judge Doctor Lindemann did her best to soften the grilling and it broadly succeeded with the witness giving a good, honest impression in most observers’ eyes.

At least two other Portuguese teenagers and their parents are set to give evidence about the night at the annual Snail Festival over the forthcoming weeks.

Meanwhile, the trial involving five sex offences that took place in Portugal between 2000 and 2017, has seen Brueckner’s defence request a number of new witnesses to give evidence.

In particular, Dave Edgar, the detective hired by the family of Madeleine McCann may be called to support Brueckner over claims one of the prosecution’s key witnesses lied.

He will tell the court he ‘doesn’t recall’ taking a call from Helge Busching, who claims to have tipped off a Missing Madeleine hotline about Brueckner’s links to the toddler’s snatch in 2008.

But he admitted to the Daily Mirror there may have been some confusion due to the different investigations into the case by him, the Met and Portuguese police.

“It was like a police incident room,” he said. “Callers were on the system whether information was relevant or not. I don’t have the records now. I handed everything over to the Metropolitan Police lock, stock and barrel.”

He added: “If I am called it would not be very pleasant but I would have to do it and give evidence. It will be down to the judge.” 

In addition, two Scotland Yard detectives may also have to give evidence over their official interview of key witness Busching, who claims to have seen videos of Brueckner raping a teenager, 14, and an elderly lady on camera.

It came when they flew out to grill him, under caution, in Athens in 2018.

Defence lawyer Friedrich Fulscher has also requested that an expat bar owner be questioned over claims by Busching that a rape video was shown in her bar in Santa Clara.

She confirmed to the Olive Press this week that she had been approached by the lawyer to attend, but that it most likely boiled down to ‘confusion’.

The trial continues this week with evidence from a former biker and tattoo artist and his girlfriend, who ran a holiday rental business in Santa Clara an hour inland from the Algarve.

Two former girlfriends, Silke Becker and Marina Flache, are also still scheduled to take the stand.

Jon Clarke (Publisher & Editor)

Jon Clarke is a Londoner who worked at the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday as an investigative journalist before moving permanently to Spain in 2003 where he helped set up the Olive Press. He is the author of three books; Costa Killer, Dining Secrets of Andalucia and My Search for Madeleine.

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