Madeleine McCann abduction suspect Christian Brueckner seen for first time in court

Christian Brueckner is on trial in Germany because he is a German national, ITV News' Correspondent Emma Murphy reports

For years, Christian Brueckner lived a life of anonymity, choosing a transient life, off grid from society.

Now his name and face are well known, recognised in association with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, as well as a conviction for rape and other sexual offences.

On Friday, the man who remains the prime suspect in the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine, appeared in court in Brunswick, Germany.

Dressed in a suit while handcuffed, it is the first time Brueckner has been seen in public since being linked to the McCann case.

After the short hearing, Judge Christina Engelmann adjourned the case until next Friday so that a replacement lay judge can be found.

Brueckner is accused of a host of sex attacks in Portugal, including close to Praia de Luz where she vanished from in 2007.

The 47-year-old will go on trial for five separate attacks carried out between 2000 and 2017.

Madeleine McCann disappeared in May 2007. Credit: PA

The charges include:

  • An attack on a 14-year-old girl between 2000 and 2006, who the prosecution claim was tied up in a property which was rented by Brueckner, She was then allegedly attacked with a whip and forced to perform sex acts while being filmed.

  • The rape and assault of an Irish woman who, in 2004, was working as a holiday rep in Portugal. She was attacked in her own home by a masked man who broke in and attacked her at knife-point. She woke to find the man, who spoke English, with an accent on top of her in bed. She was raped twice and assaulted. Parts of that attack were also filmed.

  • Abduction and sexual assault of a young girl snatched from a beach in the Algarve, just days before Madeleine was attacked in 2007.

  • The rape and sexual assault of an elderly woman in her holiday home in the Algarve between 2000 and 2006. The woman was tied up, raped, beaten with a whip while being filmed.

  • Indecent exposure to a young boy at a folk festival in Portugal in June 2017. The father of the child was an off-duty police officer who detained Brueckner until he was arrested by Portuguese officers and extradited to Germany where he was already wanted.

A judicial vehicle with the accused Christian B. drives into a courtyard of the Braunschweig Regional Court on for the start of his trial Credit: AP

Brueckner is already serving a seven-year prison sentence in Germany for the rape of an elderly tourist in the Algarve who was attacked in her holiday apartment.

It was during the investigation into the other attacks in the Algarve that German prosecutors began to investigate Brueckner for Madeleine McCann’s abduction.

Prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters, named him as the prime suspect and believes Madeleine is no longer alive.

Brueckner denies all the charges against him and denies any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance.

The trial is expected to last three months, though the court will not sit each day.

Around 40 witnesses are expected to give evidence to a panel of judges who will try the case.

Christian Brueckner will have the option of giving evidence.

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