Police carry out DNA tests on VW van driven by Madeleine McCann suspect Christian ­Brueckner

Police carry out DNA tests on VW van driven by Madeleine McCann suspect Christian ­Brueckner

Brueckner, 44, who has been linked to four other child murders across Europe since 1996, was sensationally named by German prosecutors as the man ‘responsible’ for Madeleine’s kidnap and murder in June 2020.

On Thursday, the child sex offender was handed a document in prison informing him he was being made an ‘arguido’ by Portuguese prosecutors – the Portuguese term for an official suspect.

German detectives interviewed Brueckner at Oldenburg jail, where he is serving a rape sentence.

They quizzed him for the first time on missing Maddie, asking him a series of questions including: ‘Where were you the night Madeleine McCann ­disappeared? If you weren’t by the apartment she ­disappeared from, where were you?’

Now, investigators are combing the VW van Brueckner drove while living on the Algarve, where Madeleine vanished on May 3, 2007, aged three from her family’s holiday apartment in the beach resort of Praia da Luz.

Sources have said he answered none of the questions asked to him.

Brueckner is also under investigation for two further rapes carried out in Portugal close to where she vanished.

Madeleine McCann’s parents last night ‘welcomed’ news that German rapist Brueckner has been made an ‘arguido’.

Kate and Gerry have said they are fully aware of the latest development in the case which emerged last night – and are understood to be encouraged by the news.

A source close to the couple told MailOnline: ’Anything that implies progress in the case is to be welcomed and that is the view of both Kate and Gerry.

‘They won’t be saying anything publicly just yet but that’s not to say they won’t in the next few days ahead of the anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance.

‘Kate and Gerry both still have hope they will get answers in due course to what happened to Madeleine and anything which goes towards that is welcomed.’

The couple later added in a statement: ‘We welcome the news that the Portuguese authorities have declared a German man an “arguido” in relation to the disappearance of our beloved daughter Madeleine.

‘This reflects progress in the investigation, being conducted by the Portuguese, German and British authorities. We are kept informed of developments by the Metropolitan police.

‘It is important to note the “arguido” has not yet been charged with any specific crime related to Madeleine’s disappearance.

‘Even though the possibility may be slim, we have not given up hope that Madeleine is still alive and we will be reunited with her.’

Earlier this year it was reported that Home Office funding for Operation Grange – the Metropolitan Police investigation into their daughter’s disappearance – would be shelved in the autumn but their was no official response from Kate and Gerry.

Hans-Christian Wolters, from the Brunswick prosecutor’s office in Germany, revealed that Bruekner faces investigation over the cases.

Wolters, from the Brunswick prosecutor’s office in Germany, said: ’We haven’t spoken in depth about the other two cases, but I confirm we are looking into them.

‘These are two further rape cases and are in addition to the sexual assault on a little girl at the beach and the case of Hazel Behan.

‘These two rape cases are from evidence provided at Brueckner’s trial in 2019 from two witnesses who said they found footage on a video camera of him attacking these two women.

‘We have not been able to identify either of the victims.

‘We actually hope to have these cases all closed within the next few weeks and then it will be possible to consider charges for these but for the Madeleine McCann investigation we still need more time.’

The new allegations stem from a video camera found by two former friends of Brueckner but which has since disappeared.

Footage found on the camera allegedly shows an ‘older’ woman asking for ‘help’ in Italian as she is being whipped and raped by a masked man.

According to the men who have seen and described the footage, the attacker then takes off his mask and they say it is clearly Brueckner.

While another clip, according to the men, shows a younger woman, speaking German, tied to a wooden beam in his house, as she begs to be freed.

The men told police they also recognised the man in the second video as Brueckner and that it was filmed in his Portuguese home.

Their testimony was used to convict Brueckner of raping a 72-year-old American woman in Praia da Luz just two years before Madeleine was abducted.

The victims have never been identified but Mr Wolters said:’The additional rape cases are from the testimony of the witnesses at his trial who described what they had seen on a video they found at Mr Brueckner’s house.’

These two new alleged rapes are in addition to a sex assault on a ten-year-old girl and another rape, that of Irish tour guide Hazel Behan, who has waived her right to anonymity and both of which happened in the same area.

Brueckner is currently serving a seven-year jail term for the rape of the elderly American woman in her home at Praia da Luz in 2005 and was convicted in Germany in December 2019.

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