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German police treating Madeleine McCann investigation as murder, prosecutors 'assume she is dead'

The suspect has been described as a “sexual predator” who has in the past been convicted of crimes against children.

Image: Kate McCann

GERMAN AUTHORITIES HAVE said they believe British three-year-old Madeleine McCann is dead and police are treating her disappearance as a murder investigation.

It emerged yesterday that a German suspect in the girl’s disappearance from a holiday resort in Portugal 13 years ago has been identified.

Today Hans Christian Wolters, a spokesman for the Braunschweig Public Prosecutor’s Office, said:

“In connection with the disappearance of the three-year-old British girl Madeleine McCann on 3 May 2007 from an apartment complex in Praia da Luz, in Portugal, the Braunschweig prosecution is investigating against a 43-year-old German on suspicion of murder.

“We are assuming that the girl is dead,” he said.

“With the suspect, we are talking about a sexual predator who has already been convicted of crimes against little girls and he’s already serving a long sentence.”

He said the suspect was regularly living in the Algarve between 1995 and 2007, where he worked jobs in the hospitality business, but funded his lifestyle by committing crimes, including thefts in hotel complexes and apartments, as well as drug dealing.

He added: “The Braunschweig prosecution is now concerned because before going abroad he last had his residence in Braunschweig.”

Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry said they have never given up hope of finding their daughter alive “but whatever the outcome may be, we need to know as we need to find peace”.

“All we have ever wanted is to find her, uncover the truth and bring those responsible to justice.”

Fresh appeal

Yesterday it was revealed that a half-hour phone call was made to the suspect’s Portuguese mobile phone around an hour before Madeleine is believed to have gone missing in 2007. 

Police have released two mobile phone numbers as part of their fresh appeal. 

He has been linked to an early 1980s VW T3 Westfalia camper van – with a white upper body and yellow skirting, registered in Portugal – which was pictured in the Algarve in 2007.

camper VW T3 Westfalia campervan linked to the suspect. Source: PA

Scotland Yard said he was driving the vehicle in the Praia da Luz area in the days before Madeleine’s disappearance and is believed to have been living in it for days or weeks before and after 3 May.

He has also been linked to a 1993 Jaguar XJR6 with a German number plate seen in Praia da Luz and surrounding areas in 2006 and 2007.

Both vehicles have been seized by German police.

The day after Madeleine went missing, the suspect got the car re-registered in Germany under someone else’s name, although it is believed the vehicle was still in Portugal.

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Scotland Yard is launching a joint appeal with the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany (BKA) and the Portuguese Policia Judiciaria (PJ), including a £20,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person responsible of Madeleine’s disappearance.

The Met’s investigation has identified more than 600 people as being potentially significant and were tipped off about the German national, already known to detectives, following a 2017 appeal 10 years after she went missing.

She vanished shortly before her fourth birthday and would have turned 17 last month.

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