German court rejects possible trial of suspect in Madeleine McCann case

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A court in the German city of Braunschweig has thrown out rape and sexual offense charges against Christian Brueckner, who has been formally identified as an official suspect in the Madeleine McCann case, his lawyer said on Thursday.

The court’s decision means that legal authorities in Braunschweig have no jurisdiction over the case of “Maddie,” a British girl who disappeared in Portugal in 2007 at the age of 3, lawyer Friedrich Fuelscher said in an email to Reuters.

German prosecutors last year said they had charged Brueckner with three offences of aggravated rape and two offenses of sexual abuse of children in Portugal between Dec. 28, 2000, and June 11, 2017.

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These charges are not linked to the McCann case.

Confirming a report in Bild daily, Fuelscher said the court in Braunschweig had decided that it had no jurisdiction in the case and had revoked the arrest warrant against Brueckner.

The court, in the state of Lower Saxony, confirmed the decision, saying the fact that Brueckner had registered a place of residence in the state of Saxony-Anhalt meant it fell outside Braunschweig’s jurisdiction.

A spokesperson for the court stressed that the charges were separate from the McCann case and declined to confirm Fuelscher’s view that the move meant the court would no longer be able to consider the latter.

Brueckner, a convicted child abuser and drug trader who is behind bars in Germany for raping a 72-year-old woman in the same area of the Algarve region of Portugal from where Madeleine went missing, was formally identified as an official suspect in the McCann case last year.

Fuelscher did not say when Brueckner was due to be released or whether the court decision would affect that.

German police said in June 2020 that Madeleine was assumed dead and that Brueckner was likely responsible for it. Brueckner has denied being involved in the disappearance and has not been charged with any crime related to it.

State prosecutors were not immediately available to comment.

The prosecutor’s office in Portugal did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

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