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German Court Drops Sex Crimes Trial Against Jailed Madeleine McCann Suspect
“The court should have given both the state prosecutor and the defense lawyer this decision simultaneously,” German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters said.
A German court won’t hear arguments in a sex offense trial involving the primary suspect in the Madeleine McCann case.
Convicted sex predator, Christian Brückner, 45, who’s considered the most credible suspect in the British toddler’s 2007 disappearance, will not face trial on charges related to a trio of sexual assaults that took place in Portugal between 2000 and 2017, the Guardian reported. He’d faced three charges of aggravated rape.
A regional German court ruled it was “not competent” to allow the trial against Brückner to proceed, which had soon been set to open, because his “last known address” in Germany was reportedly located in a different state of Saxony-Anhalt, according to the Guardian.
The announcement by the Braunschweig court, which comes days before the 16th anniversary of McCann’s disappearance, appeared to catch prosecutors off-guard.
“The court should have given both the state prosecutor and the defense lawyer this decision simultaneously,” prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters told Bild newspaper, the Guardian reported.
Wolters said his office would “carefully examine the reasons” issued by the tribunal. He said he’d likely appeal the decision. Wolters vowed to continue probing McCann’s disappearance.
Brückner’s lawyer, however, said the court precedent could now impede German investigators’ efforts in investigating McCann’s disappearance.
“On the basis of the court’s decision, the Brunswick justice system is also not competent in the Maddie case,” Friedrich Fülscher said, according to the Guardian.
It’s unclear what impact, if any, the ruling will have on the German investigation into McCann’s disappearance. Even if the case moves to the proper jurisdiction, prosecutors may still face additional legal hurdles in bringing forth charges against Brückner.
Brückner’s registration documents alone, Fülscher said, are also not sufficient enough evidence to prove his client was physically living at the listed address in question at the time.
“Prior to his arrest abroad, the accused lived on his property in Neuwegersleben,” Fülscher added.
On May 3, 2007, McCann vanished from her family’s hotel room while vacationing in Praia da Luz, Portugal. McCann was 3 years old at the time. Her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, were later discounted as persons of interest in the case by Portugal investigators.
German authorities in 2020 declared they’d obtained evidence which they say strongly suggested McCann was no longer alive and that Brückner was behind her death, however, they didn’t further elaborate on the claims.
“If you knew the evidence we had, you would come to the same conclusion as I do, but I can’t give you details because we don’t want the accused to know what we have on him,” Wolters said at the time. “These are tactical considerations.”
Wolters had previously stated that proceeding to trial without McCann’s body — or evidence that she’d been killed — would be incredibly difficult.
Brückner, identified only as “Christian B.” in formal court documents in accordance with German privacy laws, has long-insisted he’s innocent in McCann’s kidnapping. He claims he was having sex in a nearby camper van with a German woman around the time of McCann’s disappearance.
Last year, Portuguese officials also listed Brückner as a suspect in McCann's 2007 kidnapping.
Brückner is currently serving a 7-year prison sentence for raping a 72-year-old woman at the Praia da Luz resort dating back to 2005.
In other news related to the highly publicized case, a 21-year-old Polish woman who had recently speculated she may be McCann, issued an apology to the missing girl’s parents after a DNA test disproved her claims.