The new prime suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann is unlikely to be released from prison despite being eligible for parole, as it emerged he is refusing to cooperate with investigators.
Christian Brueckner, 43, is currently serving a 15-month sentence in his home country of Germany for drug offences and is reportedly eligible for parole on Sunday.
But the serial sex offender is also facing a separate sentence for the rape of a 72-year-old American woman on a waterfront villa less than a mile from where Madeleine went missing in Portugal in 2007.
Although he was convicted in December 2019, he appealed against his seven-year sentence and so it cannot be imposed until his appeal avenues are exhausted.
But this does mean that he can be held on remand while any appeal takes place.
Brueckner himself is also reportedly refusing to cooperate with the police investigation. A source close to the German police told the Sun: ‘So far he is saying absolutely nothing to officers, he is keeping schtum.’
Paedophile Christian Brueckner (left), who is suspected of abducting Madeleine McCann (right), had only been released from a Portuguese prison just months before her disappearance from a family villa in 2007
The paedophile, who is being held in prison in the north German city of Kiel, has not been formally charged over Madeleine’s disappearance so prosecutors cannot hold him on that basis.
Prisoners are able to apply for parole in Germany when they have served at least two thirds of their sentence.
However, it is not automatically granted and any decision to do so would be entirely that of the parole board.
Even if Brueckner were to be granted parole on Sunday, he would be unlikely to leave prison because he would still be on remand for the rape offence.
A map of the area of Praia de Luz in Portugal showing the suspect’s house and the McCanns’ holiday apartment which was nearby
The maximum time which a prisoner can be held on remand before trial in Germany is normally six months, but this can be extended in complex cases.
It would therefore be for the German appeal court to decide if he should remain in custody in the event of being granted parole for the drugs offence.
Brueckner’s appeal for the rape conviction is based on an extradition techicality.
He was extradited from Italy to Germany for the rape and his lawyers have argued that he cannot be tried without Italy’s consent, which German prosecutors did not formally obtain.
Because he was held under a European arrest warrant, the German appeal court is appealing to the European Court of Justice.
The news comes as it emerged that Brueckner is refusing to cooperate with German police over Madeleine’s disappearance.
German prosecutors believe Madeleine is dead and are investigating paedophile Brueckner, 43, on suspicion of her murder.
Prosecutors claim to know how the youngster died but have not revealed further details and British officers are still treating it as a missing persons case.
A source reportedly close to the German Police investigation told the Sun Online: ‘If he is responsible for taking Madeleine and suddenly crumbles and confesses it could end reasonably rapidly.
‘But so far he is saying absolutely nothing to officers, he is keeping schtum, so Kate and Gerry could be left in limbo for many weeks and months which is agonising for them.’
Brueckner, pictured in a German bar in 2011, is also alleged to have confided in a friend that he ‘knew all about’ what had happened to Madeleine
Lawyer Jan-Christian Hochmann confirmed he was representing the suspect on Saturday.
He told Reuters: ‘It is correct that I and my colleague David Volke are representing him, but we are not making any comment at the moment.’
Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry of Rothley, Leicestershire, ‘continue to hope she is alive until they can be shown incontrovertible evidence which proves that she is dead,’ family spokesman Clarence Mitchell told MailOnline on Saturday.
On Saturday, British police said they have received nearly 400 tip-offs since Brueckner was named as the prime suspect in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance on Wednesday.
Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry of Rothley, Leicestershire, ‘continue to hope she is alive until they can be shown incontrovertible evidence which proves that she is dead,’ family spokesman Clarence Mitchell told MailOnline on Saturday
Information continues to pour into Scotland Yard’s team of detectives working on the investigation into the disappearance, named Operation Grange.
A force spokesperson said on Saturday: ‘We have now received just short of 400 pieces of information. We are pleased with the amount of calls and emails coming in and we are assessing them and prioritising them.’
Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry of Rothley, Leicestershire, ‘continue to hope she is alive until they can be shown incontrovertible evidence which proves that she is dead,’ family spokesman Clarence Mitchell told MailOnline.
Horror of woman who raised Maddie McCann suspect: How Christian Brueckner’s adoptive parents were forced to send him to a home for delinquent teenagers when they could no longer cope with his wayward behaviour
By Nick Fagge, in Wurzburg, Germany, for MailOnline
Madeleine McCann murder suspect Christian Brueckner was thrown out of his adopted home because of his disruptive and criminal behaviour, MailOnline can reveal as his parents are exclusively pictured for the first time.
Brigitte and Fritz Brueckner had taken baby Christian into their family as an act of charity for the tiny foundling who had been given up by his mother.
But the kind-hearted parents sent him to live in a reform home for delinquent teenagers after Herr Brueckner was seriously injured in a car crash and could no longer discipline the boy.
Widowed Frau Brueckner today told MailOnline she knew nothing about her estranged son’s alleged crimes.
Standing inside the doorway of her modest home in Bergtheim, near Wuerzburg, she told MailOnline: ‘I don’t know anything about it. I don’t want to know anything about it.’
She distanced herself from the 43-year-old prisoner as neighbours revealed the family’s difficulty in controlling Christian.
They told of how Frau Brueckner could not cope with Christian’s disruptive and increasingly criminal behaviour and simultaneously look after her disabled husband who suffered brain damage and was confined to a wheel chair following the smash in 1992.
As the re-energised investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance 13 years ago gathered pace:
- Scotland Yard revealed it has received 400 tip-offs after convicted sex fiend Brueckner was named as the key suspect;
- German prosecutors linked Brueckner to the 1994 disappearance of six-year-old boy René from the Algarve and the 2015 vanishing of five-year-old girl Ingra Gehricke;
- Brueckner became eligible for parole this weekend but is unlikely to be released from custody for his 15-month sentences for drug offences;
- It was claimed Brueckner was not cooperating with German officers in the McCann investigation;
- Lawyer Jan-Christian Hochmann confirmed he was representing Brueckner but said he had no comment on the case;
- It was revealed Brueckner was flagged as a key Madeleine McCann kidnap and murder suspect seven years ago.
Brigitte and Fritz Brueckner (left) had taken baby Christian (right, as an adult) into their family as an act of charity for the tiny foundling who had been given up by his mother
The former home of Christian Brueckner: Today neighbours of the couple in the village of Bergthei, where he grew up told of their shock that Brueckner has been linked to the murder of four-year-old Madeleine in 2007
The primary school in the village of Bertheim, southern Bavaria, where Christian Brueckner grew up (pictured today)
Brigitte (left) and Fritz Brueckner (right) had taken baby Christian into their family as an act of charity for the tiny foundling who had been given up by his mother
Today neighbours of the couple in the village of Bergthei, where he grew up also told of their shock that Brueckner has been linked to the murder of three-year-old Madeleine in 2007.
One neighbour told MailOnline: ‘The Brueckners were a lovely couple, very kind. But what happened with their boy Christian is a catastrophe.
‘They took him in as a baby and brought him up as their own. He was often in trouble and he got worse and worse as he grew into a teenager. Christian must have been 13 or 14 when Herr Bruecker, Fritz, had the car accident.
‘As the man of the house it was Fritz who disciplined the boy. Christian needed a firm hand. But after the accident he could not do that any more.
‘Brigitte, the mother did her best, but she could not cope with the boy and look after her husband. Christian had been in trouble and that is when he was sent to a reform school for delinquent teenagers in Wuerzburg.’
She added: ‘Sadly Fritz, the husband is dead now. But his wife Brigitte did everything she could for him. She was awarded a medal.’
Another neighbour added: ‘Brigitte is a lovely woman. I knew Christian but I have not seen him for years.
‘If what I read is true it will destroy his mother. Brigitte and Fritz did everything they could for him when he was a boy.’
Christian Brueckner (pictured left) left Portugal after then three-year-old Madeline (pictured right) disappeared in 2007
Bergtheim is a small municipality in southern Bavaria, Germany, where Brueckner grew up before being sent to a reform school
The village of Bergtheim in Germany where Brueckner grew up. He later moved to Praia da Luz, where Madeleine McCann vanished in 2007
Christian Brueckner was flagged as a key Madeleine McCann kidnap and murder suspect SEVEN YEARS ago
Christian Brueckner was flagged as a key Madeleine McCann kidnap and murder suspect seven years ago by police but the report was ignored by German authorities.
According to German magazine Spiegel, police in Braunschweig sent a report about him being a prime suspect to the Federal Criminal Office (BKA) in 2013, two years before Inga Gehricke, ‘Germany’s Maddie McCann’, disappeared. It was ignored.
Braunschweig police were monitoring the 43-year-old around the clock at the time.The report was triggered after an appeal from British police on a German unsolved crime show, on which the news about Brueckner was also broadcast this week.
Spiegel went on: ‘One person did submit a tip about Brueckner but the resulting report from police in Braunschweig to the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation was apparently not acted upon, much to the consternation of the local investigators.’
Brueckner was born to a woman named Fischer but given over to youth authorities at an early age. Between 1992 – when he was 16 – and 1994 he lived in a facility for young people with learning difficulties.
A neighbour told German newspaper BILD: ‘There were only bad young people there.’
During this time he committed his first burglary and received a suspended jail sentence. He finished his high school education and embarked on an apprenticeship as a car mechanic.
A close family friend revealed the discovery of Brueckner’s alleged involvement in the murder of Madeleine will destroy his mother.
Monica Veirheilig told MailOnline: ‘This will destroy Brigitte. For your child to kill another child is the worst thing imaginable for a mother.
‘She is a kind woman and she has already had to deal with tragedy. She had to cope with looking after her husband after he suffered brain damage in the car crash and later his death.
‘But finding out her son may be a killer is a second tragedy for her.’
She added: ‘I don’t want to judge Frau Brueckner. I hope Madeleine parents will finally find out the truth about what happened to her. The not-knowing must be the worst.’
Another neighbour has told how Christian Brueckner and his brothers had bad reputation in their home town while growing up.
A mum-of-three who knew Christian growing up said he was well known in the area for getting in trouble.
The mum of three told MailOnline: ‘I knew Christian growing up – I was two years younger than him so I wasn’t that close to him but I knew him well because of his reputation.
‘He was well known in our area for getting in to trouble. Everyone knew that he was handful and was not easy for his parents…I was a child at the time so I can’t remember the details but I remember other adults talking about the fact that Christian was not easy for his parents.
‘His parents are lovely people. They are very kind, they obviously must be because they adopted three boys.
‘I was fully aware of the Madeleine McCann case, everyone does. I was horrified when I heard that the suspect is from a family that lives over the road from me.
‘You never thing something like this is going to come to your doorstep. It makes me feel so bad that he might be involved. I just hope for the poor parents of Madeleine that the case is resolved soon.’
Brueckner, now 43, is the key suspect in the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine from Praia da Luz, Portugal, in 2007.
He moved from Germany to the Portuguese coastal town in 1995 after serving part of a two-year sentence for molesting a six-year-old girl in Wurzburg.
Following his naming by German police, he has further been linked to the disappearances of six-year-old boy René Hasse in the Algarve, 1996, and five-year-old girl Igna Gehnricke in Germany, 2015.
Now languishing in a German prison in Kiel on a drug-related sentence, at the time of Madeleine’s vanishing he was living in the area about a 10-minute drive away.
In 2005, two years prior to the infant’s disappearance, he raped a 72-year-old American woman on a waterfront villa less than a mile from the Ocean Club hotel where Madeleine went missing.
Prosecutors in Germany are now desperately trying to build a case against Brueckner, who is eligible for parole this weekend but unlikely to be granted a release from custody.
Information continues to pour into Scotland Yard’s Maddie squad Operation Grange. A force spokesperson said today: ‘We have now received just short of 400 pieces of information. We are pleased with the amount of calls and emails coming in and we are assessing them and prioritising them.’
Maddie’s parents Kate and Gerry of Rothley, Leicestershire, ‘continue to hope she is alive until they can be shown incontrovertible evidence which proves that she is dead,’ family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said.
He told MailOnline: ‘Kate and Gerry continue to be encouraged by the level of response and nearly 400 fresh pieces of information so far is exactly what the Met wanted from their appeal.’
Lawyer Jan-Christian Hochmann confirmed he was representing Brueckner but declined to comment on the case.
‘It is correct that I and my colleage David Volke are representing him, but we are not making any comment at the moment,’ Hochmann told Reuters by phone.
Brueckner himself is reportedly refusing to cooperate with the police investigation. A source close to the German police told the Sun: ‘So far he is saying absolutely nothing to officers, he is keeping schtum.’
What do we know about Maddie murder suspect Christian Brueckner and his criminal past?
1976: Christian Brueckner is born in Würzburg under a different name, believed to be Fischer. He was adopted by the Brueckner family and took their surname.
1992: Christian Brueckner is arrested on suspicion of burglary in his hometown of Wurzburg, Bavaria.
1994: He is given a two-year youth jail sentence for ‘abusing a child’ and ‘performing sex acts in front of a child’.
1995: Brueckner arrives in Portugal as an 18-year-old backpacker and begins working in catering in the seaside resorts of Lagos and Praia da Luz.
But friends say he became involved with a criminal syndicate trafficking drugs into the Algarve.
September 2005: He dons a mask and breaks into an apartment where a 72-year-old American tourist.
The victim was bound, gagged, blindfolded and whipped with a metal cane before being raped for 15 minutes. She said afterwards that he had clearly enjoyed ‘torturing’ her before the rape.
April 2007: He moves out of a farmhouse and into a campervan now linked to the crime. The farmhouse is cleaned and a bag of wigs and ‘exotic clothes’ is found.
May 3, 2007: Madeleine McCann is snatched at around 10pm from her bed as her parents eat tapas with friends yards away.
Brueckner’s mobile phone places him in the area that night. He returns to his native Germany shortly after that.
October 2011: He is sentenced to 21 months for ‘dealing narcotics’ in Niebüll, in northern Germany.
In 2013 police released a photofit of a man seen lurking near the McCann apartment and Scotland Yard said that suspect last night had not yet been ruled out of the probe
2014: He moves to Braunschweig where he starts running a town-centre kiosk. He then goes back to Portugal with a girlfriend.
2016: He is back in Germany. He is given 15 months in prison for ‘sexual abuse of a child in the act of creating and possessing child pornographic material’.
May 3, 2017: Brueckner is said to be in a bar with a friend when a ten-year anniversary appeal following Madeleine’s disappearance is shown on German television.
He is said to have told him in a bar that he ‘knew all about’ what happened to her. He then showed his friend a video of him raping a woman.
MailOnline understands the friend went to police shortly afterwards.
June 2017: He heads back to Portugal and extradited again to Germany. The reason was a sentencing of the Braunschweig district court to 15 months’ imprisonment for the sexual abuse of a child.
August 2018: After his release from prison he lives on the streets. But he was jailed again for drug offences.
First Prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters addresses the media during a press conference on the Madeleine McCann case at the public prosecutor’s office in Braunschweig
September 2018: Brueckner is arrested in Milan, Italy and extradited to Germany and put on trial for raping the American tourist in 2007 after a DNA match to hair found at the crime scene.
July 2019: He is jailed for 21 months for drug dealing in the northern German resort of Sylt.
August 2019: Brueckner is charged with the rape of the American tourist in Praia da Luz in 2005.
December 2019: He is convicted of rape of extortion of the tourist based on DNA evidence. He is given a seven year sentence, but this has not been imposed pending an appeal.
June 3, 2020: Scotland Yard and the German police reveal that that they have identified a suspect in the Maddie McCann case
June 4, 2020: Prosecutors in Braunschweig, where he lives, say they believe Madeleine McCann has been murdered, says spokesman Hans Christian Wolters. He is named in the German press as the prime suspect.