Christian Brueckner has been officially named as a suspect in Madeleine McCann's disappearance for the first time by Portuguese authorities, his lawyer has confirmed.
Portuguese authorities named the German paedophile, 45, as an 'arguido' or 'named suspect' on Wednesday, the Mirror reports.
Brueckner was first named unofficially as a suspect in 2020.
Portuguese police were under pressure to name a suspect as the country's statute of limitations prevents prosecutions after 15 years. McCann went missing 14 years and 11 months ago.
Now that authorities have named Brueckner as an arguido - someone police are treating as more than a witness without actually pressing charges - the investigation can continue further.
The Portuguese word arguido translates to ‘named’ or ‘formal’ suspect.
Friedrich Fuelscher, Brueckner’s lawyer, told the Mirror: "The step taken by the Portuguese authorities should not be overrated.
“Without knowing the Portuguese legal situation in detail, I assume that this measure is a procedural artifice to stop the statute of limitations threatening in a few days."
Brueckner was first named by police as a prime suspect in the case back in the summer of 2020 when it was established that phone records placed him in Praia da Luz - the Algarve region McCann went missing from - on the night of her disappearance.
Brueckner is currently housed in a prison in Oldenburg, northwest Germany, where he is serving a rape sentence.
He is also facing charges for the 2004 rape of Hazel Behan, an Irish national, in Portugal.
Brueckner lived in the Algarve between 1995 and 2007.
McCann was just three years old when she went missing from a holiday apartment her parents were renting in May of 2007.
McCann’s parents Kate and Gerry were eating dinner at a nearby tapas restaurant, situated within the holiday resort.
In 2007, Kate and Gerry were made arguidos, however their status was lifted in 2008 when the Portuguese police’s investigation was archived.
In July 2020 the McCann's family lawyer Rogerio Alves warned that Portugal’s 15-year limit on prosecutions was nearing and authorities had just a short amount of time to take action.
That same summer, German police dug up an allotment plot once used by Brueckner and found a cellar that was part of a torn-down garden house.
Brückner reportedly lived at the location on the outskirts of Hanover in 2007, the same year the garden house was torn down.
Hans Christian Wolters, the head state prosecutor in Braunschweig, said in statements at the time that investigators had solid evidence that Brückner was involved in McCann’s disappearance.
Featured Image Credit: Police handout/Alamy
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