Kate and Gerry McCann said they “welcome the news” that Portuguese authorities have formally identified a suspect in the case of their daughter Madeleine’s disappearance.
“Although the possibility may be slim, we have not given up hope that Madeleine is still alive and we will be reunited with her,” the couple said in a statement.
Investigators in Portugal’s southern Algarve region said on Thursday that one person had been made an “arguido” – a “designated suspect” or “formal suspect” – in the hunt for the girl’s kidnapper after talks with British and German authorities. .
Christian Brueckner, a convicted pedophile who is in prison for rape in Germany, was identified as a murder suspect by prosecutors in his native Germany in June 2020.
Portuguese investigators did not name Brueckner, but said their suspect had been previously identified by German prosecutors.
Both countries believe that Brueckner may have killed Madeleine, who was three years old at the time of her disappearance, after kidnapping her from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in May 2007.
The 44-year-old is the first suspect in the long-running case since shortly after Madeleine’s disappearance, when authorities mistakenly thought the girl’s parents were to blame. The McCanns were later acquitted.
Nearly 15 years later, they are kept up to date on research advances.
In a statement released on Friday signed by “Kate & Gerry”, they said: “We welcome the news that the Portuguese authorities have declared a German man ‘arguido’ in relation to the disappearance of our beloved daughter Madeleine.
“This reflects the progress in the investigation, carried out by the Portuguese, German and British authorities. The Metropolitan Police keep us informed of developments.
“It is important to note that the ‘arguido’ has not yet been charged with any specific crime related to Madeleine’s disappearance.
“Although the possibility may be slim, we have not given up hope that Madeleine is still alive and we will be reunited with her.”
After the move by the Portuguese authorities, German prosecutors at a prison in the northwestern German city of Oldenburg informed Brueckner that he had been identified in a second country as a suspect in the Madeleine disappearance case.
Top German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters said his own investigation into the prisoner, which identified him as Christian B but previously used his full name, could still take more than a year to conclude after it was opened in 2020.
Wolters said the decision to declare Brueckner an official suspect in Portugal was designed to interrupt a 15-year statute of limitations for crimes with a maximum prison sentence of 10 years or more.
German police said in June 2020 that Madeleine was presumed dead and convicted drug trafficker and child molester Brueckner was likely responsible.
Brueckner lived in the Algarve between 1995 and 2007 and robbed hotels and vacation apartments, according to court documents seen by Reuters in 2020.
He has been behind bars in Germany since 2019 for raping and robbing a 72-year-old American woman in the Algarve. He denies any involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance.