Portuguese detectives showed up to question prime suspect Christian Brueckner soon after Madeleine McCann’s disappearance, but he wasn’t in when they arrived.
Disgraced former chief Goncalo Amaral, 60, who led the investigation in 2007, made the claim in an interview on Portuguese TV on Sunday night.
‘I have been told by colleagues, who are retired like me, that they had come knocking on the door. That person was not at home.’ Amaral said.
The police chief, who is being sued by Kate and Gerry McCann, said he did not know if further inquiries were made after this first visit to Brueckner’s house in Praia da Luz.
‘I have been told by colleagues, who are retired like me, that they had come knocking on the door. That person was not at home,’ disgraced former chief Goncalo Amaral Amaral said. Pictured: the house where Brueckner lived in Praia da Luz shortly before Madeleine vanished 13 years ago
Disgraced former Portuguese police officer Goncalo Amaral (pictured) described the 43-year-old German Christian Brueckner as an ‘almost perfect suspect’
Amaral, who first claimed last April a German paedophile who was in prison would be accused over Madeleine’s disappearance, described the 43-year-old as a ‘scapegoat’ and an ‘almost perfect suspect.’
‘When I spoke last year I was talking about the situation that’s happening now.’ Amaral said. ‘It matters little who the paedophile is.’
Christian Brueckner, 43, is suspected over the disappearances of several children across Europe
He added: ‘He’s an almost perfect suspect. All that’s lacking for him to become the perfect suspect is for him to be dead.’
Asked if he believed Brueckner was the man responsible for three-year-old Madeleine’s disappearance, he added: ‘To answer that question it has to be proven first that an abduction took place.’
The ex-cop, who claimed in a 2008 controversial book Madeleine’s parents had covered up their daughter’s accidental death in their Algarve apartment, went on to repeat his well-known criticism of the British youngster’s parents and their Tapas Seven holiday friends.
He accused them of abandoning their children to eat out at night and lying to Portuguese police, and said Madeleine had been left crying for around an hour the night before she vanished on May 3, 2007.
Kate and Gerry McCann hold an age-progressed police image of their daughter during a news conference to mark the 5th anniversary of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, on May 2, 2012 in London
Gerry and Kate McCann, the parents of Madeleine McCann, talking to the press after attending the libel case against Goncalo Amaral at Lisbon’s Palace of Justice, Portugal, June 2014
The McCanns began a lengthy legal battle against Amaral in 2008, suing him for defamation after the publication of his book The Truth of The Lie.
But during his half-hour-long interview with Portuguese broadcaster TVI, he also accused the authorities of altering photos of the two-tone VW camper van Brueckner was using around the time Madeleine disappeared.
The former chief, who was removed as head of the Madeleine McCann inquiry in 2008 after criticising British police officers, showed interviewer Jose Alberto Carvalho photos he said were taken in Portugal of the same vehicle.
New Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner, 43
One of the photos he produced showed a series of very distinctive Minion-style characters painted on the front and back of the camper van, which in the picture put out by police had no markings on it.
He said: ‘It’s the same vehicle flagged up in the police appeal.
‘I think it’s important to ask why the photo put out by the authorities of the van was altered. Would that vehicle have gone unnoticed in Praia da Luz with those markings on it? I don’t think so.’
Suggesting the van could have looked very different in 2007 to the way it appeared in the photo put out by British police, he added: ‘Is it that the German authorities reached the conclusion that the van wasn’t like that when it was being driven in Praia da Luz in 2007? Who said that?
Pressed on what Portuguese police knew about Brueckner’s past around the time Madeleine disappeared, he appeared to admit Algarve authorities were aware of his 1994 teenage sexual conviction for molesting a six-year-old girl by confessing: ‘At the time all we knew was that this man was a paedophile.’
Madeleine McCann, a three-year-old British girl who disappeared 13 years ago while on a family holiday in Portugal
He also claimed German authorities wanted to re-examine all the DNA evidence taken from the McCanns’ hire car and holiday apartment.
Rubbishing reports a saliva sample had been found on Madeleine’s bedspread and could prove key to a conviction now Brueckner had been identified as a new suspect, he said it had been proven it belonged to a baby being fed mother’s milk staying in the apartment before the McCanns arrived.
Asked why he thought the German authorities might have interest in coming up with new information which had no real value, Amaral claimed: ‘Because it enables them to have jurisdiction over this case.
‘I think the Portuguese police and the authorities can do anything here in laboratories that they can do in Germany. ‘
Amaral’s interview was his first since Brueckner’s name was made public – and the first time he has spoken about the case since last December when he appeared on Spanish TV.