19 May, 2024 @ 12:41
5 mins read

ANALYSIS: How a brave Irish rape victim ran rings around Christian Brueckner’s team of expensive lawyers – and got the Olive Press a mention in the process

By Jon Clarke in Braunschweig, Germany

IT was the day that Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner’s slick defence backfired.

And it partly hinged around the Olive Press newspaper.

An attempt to discredit a key witness – an expat rape victim – fell completely flat when the sex offender’s lawyer Friedrich Fulscher got his facts spectacularly wrong.

When asking Irish victim Hazel Behan, 40, why she had told the Olive Press she could ‘hardly wait to look Mr Brueckner in the eye in court’, she replied in a split second: “No, I said I can’t wait to see my attacker in the eye and have justice”.

“OK, good,” was his reply as he continued to paint the mother of three as an attention seeking money-grabber.

READ MORE: Day 2 of Hazel Behan’s testimony against Christian Brueckner in Germany

Hazel
Hazel Behan faced her alleged rapist Christian Brueckner in court this week (Copyright Olive Press Spain)

“Since 2020 have you been in contact with any journalists?” Asked the Ferrari-driving brief, who leads a team of four expensive lawyers defending the sex offender and paedophile.

“Two. A lady from the Guardian called Kate and Jon Clarke from the Olive Press,” she replied.

Then continuing to ask about what he assumed to be a big lucrative pay day for her with an Amazon Prime documentary the Olive Press has been working on, she replied it had so far come to nothing.

“Were there any contractual negotiations?” He asked. “No, it never got to that,” she insisted.

The exchange came on the second day of a gruelling appearance in the multiple sex offence trial of the German paedophile, 47, at Braunschweig court.

Police believe Hazel was attacked by him in a late night three-hour assault – filmed on a hand-held video camera – in Portimao, on the Algarve in June, 2004.

IMPOSING: Brueckner’s lawyer Fulscher (right) outside the court room in Germany (COPYRIGHT OLIVE PRESS SPAIN)

Brueckner is also charged with two other rapes and two child abuse attacks in Portugal between 2000 and 2017.

The cross examination had gone badly for Doctor Fulscher from the very start.

When doubting how Hazel could have estimated her attacker Brueckner as being around six foot tall, he stood up and towering over her asked, ‘so how tall am I?’

As quick as a fox she replied: “About 6 foot, 2 inches.” 

And after much deliberation and calculating the measurement in centimetres he insisted she was ‘four centimetres out’. 

In fact, the Olive Press calculates, it’s perhaps only one centimetre, Fulscher being a tall man.

But much worse was to come for the perma-tanned lawyer, who – wrongly and bizarrely – tried to claim Hazel could see a cross-dressing club from her Balcony at the Clube Praia da Rocha resort.

The doctor from Kiel had already been called out for masquerading as the friend of another key witness in the case, last month.

Questions were raised about how he, alongside a journalist Bastian Schlüter, had pretended to be a friend of key witness Helge Busching on social media in order to elicit sensitive private information out of him.

Busching’s lawyer Franz Obst claimed Fulscher had broken Article 138A of the German criminal code and lodged an official complaint. He will find out on June 5 if he is successful.

Busching and his friend Manfred Seyferth have already told the court how they saw Brueckner in two appalling home-made rape films, while he allegedly confessed to Busching about snatching toddler Maddie in 2007.

So when Hazel’s defence lawyer Gabriella Rieke started to read out an email he had sent directly to her client in August 2020, the court took a collective deep breath.

Everyone, including judge Ute Engermann, were noticeably shocked when they heard how Fulscher had approached her on her private email.

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

While we understand it is not illegal in Germany, Rieke described it as ‘extremely unethical’.

This was backed up by prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters when the Olive Press approached him on the matter, last year. “It’s morally wrong,” he told us. 

“As to whether he could be prosecuted over it, I don’t know.”

The email, with its various grammatical errors, is published below in full, but effectively the unorthodox email told her she was wrong about his client and ‘it was in her interests’ to find the ‘right perpetrator’.

As well as asking directly for her ‘investigation files’ he added he knew ‘how difficult it would be for you to talk about it’.

When asked in court how she felt about receiving the unsolicited email, Hazel said she found it ‘very unusual’.

Brueckner’s legal team take a break during court proceedings in Germany (COPYRIGHT OLIVE PRESS SPAIN)

“I wasn’t sure if this was the way things operate in Germany? Because in Ireland this would not be allowed,” she told the panel of judges, who looked perplexed.

“On a personal level, he is telling me I was wrong. That feels pretty unconventional to me.”

While Fulscher’s healthy tan turned a dark shade of violet and he sank down in his seat, his two-man support team looked visibly shocked. 

Brueckner meanwhile continued to stay impassive, but didn’t stop staring at his accuser.

“Hazel stared back at him until he finally looked away,” a friend told the Olive Press of her harrowing ordeal this week.

“She told me she did the same to Fulscher. And there is simply no way he would get away with those sort of antics in Dublin, nor the UK. He’d be struck off.”

As for the opportunity to finally face Brueckner in a courtroom after 20 years and to – crucially, tell the court ‘this is the man who attacked me’ – the pal revealed: “She felt great to finally confront him.”

But the pal, also from County Westmeath, added: “The whole experience was very intimidating and I still think it’s quite shocking how they treated her.

“She said it was the hardest experience of her life (from choice).

“I still can’t believe rape victims have to go through an ordeal like that. Many couldn’t.”

Hazel is supporting Rape Crisis Centres worldwide and still gets therapy via her local centre in Athlone

EMAIL FROM DOCTOR FRIEDRICH FULSCHER TO HAZEL BEHAN, AUGUST 2020

(no grammar or spelling altered)

Dear Ms Behan,

My name is Friedrich Fulscher. I am the German criminal defence lawyer for the suspect in the case “Maddie” McCann.

First I would like to express my deepest regret to you about your experience in Portugal. you have suspected that my client may have been the perpetrator.

I am aware that the perpetrator will no longer be punished in your case, at least in Portugal because of the statute of limitations. nevertheless, I think it is very important to inform you that my client denies being the one who did this to you.

in fact it is the case that I also assume that he neither raped the 72-year-old American nor you, dear Ms Behan.

You described a mole or other abnormality on the right leg of the offender. is that correct? Can you describe this abnormality to me in more detail? I would like to show – also in your interest – that the real perpetrator is still out there somewhere. it would be very helpful if you could tell me everything you remember. is it possible to get the investigation files from you? I am also able to speak to you personally about the matter if- of course confidential- of you wish. I often defend in sexual offenses and therefore know how difficult it would be for you to talk about it.

but i also know what a relief it can be if the perpetrator is punished for it. it just has to be the right one.

with best regards

Friedrich Fülscher

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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