Madeleine McCann case: 15 years of uncertainty

In a few days it will be 15 years since Madeleine McCann would have been 18. On May 3, 2007, the three-year-old girl disappeared from a resort in Praia da Luz, southern Portugal. Since then, the Englishwoman has been wanted, she is the most famous missing person in the world. The Pope intervened, soccer player David Beckham, writer Joanne K. Rowling. Officially, there is still no lead that could lead to Madeleine, and no perpetrator. There is only one man who is in a German cell for other reasons and who is now being accused in two countries of having something to do with the alleged crime.

Last week, the public prosecutor’s office in Portimão announced that in the course of the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, someone as arguido be listed as an accused or a formal suspect. The Portuguese did not name a name, but they referred to the German authorities, who had informed the man in the course of legal assistance. It quickly became clear: It’s about Christian B., who is serving a several-year prison sentence in the Oldenburg prison for a drug offense and rape and who has long been the focus of German criminal prosecution in the McCann case.

The Oldenburg public prosecutor’s office confirms that the case is being dealt with based on the request from Portugal. She then informed B. in prison about his Portuguese status, as is customary in European cooperation. The colleagues in the Algarve were obviously mainly active because the statute of limitations on murder in Portugal is 15 years. It would have been so far in a few days.

Surprising announcement at “Aktenzeichen XY … unresolved”

A legal trick, so does the accusation prevent the statute of limitations? “Yes, I’m very sure of that,” writes Friedrich Fülscher, Christian B’s lawyer in Kiel, when asked by SZ. The Braunschweig public prosecutor, Hans Christian Wolters, who is leading the German investigation against B., believes the report from the Portuguese coast is correct not overly significant: “It’s completely irrelevant to us,” he says on the phone. “It doesn’t matter to us at all.”

The public prosecutor’s office in Braunschweig and the Federal Criminal Police Office have been investigating for a long time on suspicion of murder against B. At the beginning of June 2020, the program “Aktenzeichen XY … unsolved” surprisingly announced that there was a suspect in the McCann case who was 45 today. year old Germans. It is about a sex offender with multiple convictions, also convicted of the sexual abuse of children. He lived regularly in the Algarve from 1995 to 2007, also in a house between Lagos and Praia da Luz. He did odd jobs, including in the catering trade, and also earned his living by breaking into hotels and holiday apartments and dealing in drugs. The Braunschweig area was his last place of residence before the time abroad, so the local public prosecutor’s office is responsible, in cooperation with the Federal Criminal Police Office, the Metropolitan Police in Great Britain and the Polícia Judiciária in Portugal.

In July 2020, the police dug up an allotment plot near Hanover in search of possible evidence against Christian B.

(Photo: Hauke-Christian Dittrich/AFP)

A public manhunt has been launched, with photos of the suspect’s Jaguar, VW bus and homes from years in Portugal. Word quickly got around that the accused’s name was Christian B. and that he was initially imprisoned in Kiel. Notes were received, statements from acquaintances and rumors made the rounds. However, witnesses came forward in particular because of other unexplained cases that may have something to do with B. Among them is the case of a woman who was raped in the Algarve in 2004. It’s also about sexual abuse of children.

Wolter is now announcing news about this for May, charges could soon be brought. In the McCann case, no charges against B. are in sight, although the Braunschweig public prosecutor’s office seems to be sure of their case. “We’re assuming murder,” says Wolters. Murder does not become statute-barred in Germany, manslaughter after 20 years. There is still more than enough time for the investigation to continue, says Wolters. But what exactly the suspicion is based on is still unclear.

Attorney Fülscher, who is defending B., writes that he “can’t say anything about the status of the German proceedings, we still don’t know the files and therefore the specific allegations even after two years”. The English Newspaper Daily Mail reports of a letter in which B. is said to have protested his innocence in relation to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann: He is now “the most famous bad person in the world”, although he “did nothing – well, almost nothing”. he is quoting. “I haven’t kidnapped anyone and of course I haven’t killed anyone.” He also complained to the authorities in Lower Saxony about the conditions in which he was held in the Oldenburg prison, whose inmates also included the serial killer Niels Högel.

There is no evidence of Madeleine’s death

15 years of searching, 15 years of no certainty. In the UK, she is still listed as a missing persons case. There is no evidence of her death, at least none that would be public, even if her survival after all these years is considered very unlikely.

Her parents Kate and Gerry McCann welcome the news on their Find Madeleine website that “a German man” has been named by Portugal’s authorities as a suspect in connection with the disappearance of “our beloved daughter”. This shows that the Portuguese, German and British investigations are progressing. Although the possibility may be small, “we have not given up hope that Madeleine is still alive and that we will be reunited with her”. On May 12, Madeleine McCann, who disappeared in Portugal when she was just four, would be 19.

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