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Police reopen 2004 rape case of Irishwoman after claims of link to Madeleine McCann suspect

Irish woman Hazel Behan, now aged 37, was viciously assaulted by a stranger in her Portuguese apartment 16 years ago.

Hazel Behan's 2015 appearance on The Late Late Show.
Hazel Behan's 2015 appearance on The Late Late Show.

PORTUGUESE POLICE HAVE reopened an unsolved rape case of an Irish woman in 2004, after claims that it may be linked to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

British media are reporting that Portuguese police have reopened the case of Irish woman Hazel Behan, now aged 37, who was viciously assaulted by a stranger in her apartment 16 years ago.

Hazel Behan was working in Praia da Rocha in the Algarve at the time, a 30-minute drive from where three-year-old Madeleine was abducted from a room in the Praia da Luz resort in May 2007.

Today, Sky News reports that, according to a source: “Detectives are looking again for new evidence and the investigation is reopened.”

In an exclusive interview with The Guardian last month, Hazel Behan explained that when she first read about the new evidence in the McCann case, her “mind was blown”.

In June, German authorities announced they were investigating Christian B, a convicted German child sex offender, as a possible chief suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance.

Christian B is known to have lived on the Algarve coast at the time Madeleine went missing. He is in jail in Germany for drug dealing, and is appealing against a conviction for the 2005 rape of a 72-year-old woman, also at Praia da Luz.

The Irishwoman told The Guardian: “My mind was blown when I read how he had attacked a woman in 2005, both the tactics and the methods he used, the tools he had with him, how well he had planned it out.

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“I puked, to be honest with you, as reading about it took me right back to my experience.”

Although German police have said that they are treating Madeleine McCann’s disappearance as a murder investigation, the Met Police maintain their investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance, Operation Grange, is a missing-person inquiry, as there is no “definitive evidence whether Madeleine is alive or dead”.

In the days after the renewed appeal, Scotland Yard said they received hundreds of tips to their Operation Grange team.

- with reporting from the Press Association

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