German prosecutors said Tuesday they have charged the prime suspect in the disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann with three unrelated counts of rape and two sexual offences against children.
The prosecutors in Brunswick said they have “today filed charges against a 45-year-old German… for multiple sexual offences that he allegedly committed between December 28, 2000 and June 11, 2017 in Portugal”.
“The accused is the same person who is being investigated in connection with the disappearance of the then three-year-old British girl Madeleine McCann from an apartment complex in Praia da Luz in Portugal on May 3, 2007,” they said.
Madeleine McCann went missing from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz a few days before her fourth birthday, as her parents dined with friends at a nearby tapas bar.
Despite a huge international manhunt, no trace of her has been found and no one has been charged over her disappearance.
In June 2020, German prosecutors made the stunning revelation that they were investigating a man named as Christian B. in connection with the case, saying they had “concrete evidence” he killed Maddie.
However, no charges have yet been brought against him in the Madeleine McCann case, and no body has been found.
Investigations over her case were ongoing, said prosecutors Tuesday, adding that they were unable to provide details on the probe.
– Multiple charges –
According to German police, Christian B. lived in the Algarve region of Portugal between 1995 and 2007.
They say he made a living doing odd jobs in the area where Madeleine was taken, and also burgled hotel rooms and holiday flats.
The new charges against him include entering the holiday apartment of a woman aged between 70 and 80 and then raping her and beating her.
He is also charged with entering the apartment of a 20-year-old Irish woman while she was asleep before raping and assaulting her.
The third rape case involves a girl aged around 14, whom Christian B. is alleged to have abused at his own home in Praia da Luz.
In all three cases, he is accused of filming the assaults.
The fourth allegation involves a 10-year-old German girl who Christian B. allegedly approached while she was playing.
The suspect also approached an 11-year-old Portuguese girl while she was sitting on a swing at a festival and allegedly engaged in illegal conduct.
– Appeal for information –
When placed under investigation by German police, Christian B. already had a string of previous convictions including sexual offences and drug trafficking.
He is currently serving a seven-year sentence in Oldenburg, northern Germany, for raping a 72-year-old US tourist in Praia da Luz in 2005.
Following the German announcement, investigators elsewhere in Europe began once again looking at cold cases of missing children or teens.
Earlier this year, Portuguese prosecutors also named Christian B. as an “arguido”, or formal suspect, in the Madeleine McCann case.
The girl’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann — who were at one point formal suspects themselves — welcomed that announcement as a reflection of “progress in the investigation”.
The German prosecutors on Tuesday appealed to the public to come forward with any information they may have about the suspect.
Brunswick prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters had in April told AFP his team was investigating Christian B. on suspicion of various sexual offences in addition to the Madeleine McCann probe.
Wolters said he hoped to complete those probes soon, while the Maddie investigation “could take a while longer”.