Police to search Portuguese dam in connection with Madeleine McCann disappearance

Twenty police officers are expected to take part in the search at a dam 50km from where McCann went missing, ITV News' Emma Murphy reports

German authorities are set to fly to Portugal to undertake fresh searches at a site identified in the search for Madeleine McCann, ITV News understands.

Twenty police officers are expected to take part in the search at a dam 50km from Praia Da Luz, where McCann went missing in 2007.

They will be joined by a team from the UK and Portugal, with some forensic tents already in place.

Heavy machinery from Portugal's Department of Civil Protection is being brought to the area.

The McCann family have for many years now had a policy of not commenting on the investigation unless they are specifically asked to by the authorities.

They have not made any acknowledgment of these searches but have been made aware of them.

ITV News' Neil Connery reports on what we know about the search so far

The area around the Arade Dam in the Silves municipality was searched in February and March 2008 during an independent search commissioned by Portuguese lawyer Marcos Aragao Correia.

Mr Correia claimed he had been told by a gang that Madeleine's body had been dumped in a reservoir within days of her disappearance.

He said the area he found, now subject to the latest search, fit the description his source had given him.

The search he conducted did not deliver any tangible evidence.

In June 2020 German authorities said they believed Christian Brueckner was the man “responsible” for Madeleine’s kidnap and murder.

He remains in their custody. The area being searched is a place he used to visit regularly when living in Portugal.

The Policia Judiciaria said in a press statement that it is co-ordinating searches in the Algarve over the next few days, at the request of the German police and in the presence of British officers.

The area being investigated by police. Credit: ITV News

What happened to Madeleine McCann?

On May 3, 2007 Kate and Gerry McCann left their children at their holiday apartment in Portugal to meet friends for a meal.

When they returned at 10pm they found their three-year-old daughter, Madeleine, was missing.

The disappearance sparked a huge police operation by Portuguese authorities, but despite naming several suspects they failed to find any indication of Madeleine's whereabouts.

Madeline Mccann went missing in 2007. Credit: PA

As police wound down their investigations over time, the McCanns hired private investigators to continue the search.

In 2011, Scotland Yard opened its own investigation, saying detectives were treating the case as "a criminal act by a stranger."Their case remained fully active until 2015 when it was scaled back, but it has never been dropped.

Earlier this month, Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry issued a short statement on their Find Madeleine Campaign website to mark the 16th anniversary of her disappearance.

They said: “Today marks the 16th anniversary of Madeleine’s abduction. Still missing… still very much missed.

“It is hard to find the words to convey how we feel. The police investigation continues, and we await a breakthrough.”

In 2020, German authorities in the central city of Braunschweig said they had a new suspect in the case.

A man, eventually identified as convicted sex offender Christian Brueckner, is believed to have been living in a camper van near the holiday apartments the McCanns were staying in when Madeleine went missing.

He remains in prison convicted of unrelated crimes.

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