May 24, 2023, 11:32am EDT

Why German authorities launched a new search for Madeleine McCann 16 years after she disappeared

Portuguese and German police search a reservoir near the area where British girl Madeleine McCann went missing in the Portuguese Algarve in May 2007, in Silves, Portugal, May 24, 2023.
REUTERS/Luis Ferreira

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The News

Police are searching a reservoir in Portugal for evidence linking a German suspect to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, a British toddler who went missing while her family was on vacation in the country in 2007.

The Arade dam reservoir is about 30 miles from the Praia da Luz resort in the Algarve region where the child was last seen.

Here’s why German investigators asked for the site, which has searched previously, to be examined again.

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Know More

German authorities identified Christian Brueckner, 45, as a suspect in the case in 2020. Brueckner, a German national, is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence in Germany for the rape of a woman in 2005 in the same area where McCann disappeared.

In an interview with German TV channel RTL, state prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters said that while he couldn’t divulge the exact information they are working from, police are investigating new information about the case.

“You can imagine that we don’t start searching somewhere in Portugal on the off chance, but that there must be a good reason for it,” Wolters said. “We do have one, but I ask for your understanding that I cannot disclose it here at the moment for tactical reasons.”

Brueckner has denied any involvement in McCann’s disappearance.

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Step Back

McCann, who was three at the time of her disappearance, went missing from her bed at the resort while her parents were out for dinner. She was sharing a room with her younger twin siblings at the time.

Authorities have carried out previous searches of the area in hopes of finding evidence related to McCann's disappearance. But the case has remained a mystery as no remains have ever been found.


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