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Madeleine McCann's investigators are again digging in German allotments


Madeleine McCann's investigators found a hidden cellar in the German parcel, in which the suspect Christian Brueckner allegedly lived in 2007.

The police discovered the basement in the foundations of a building that, according to neighbors, was demolished in late 2007 or 2008, months after Madeleine's disappearance.

During a two-day search in the vegetable garden, detectives removed building material slabs, accompanied by specialized search dogs that search for corpses and computer equipment.

The 73-year-old Wolfgang Kossack, who owns the property next to Brücker's former property, informed MailOnline that Brücker had lived on the site in 2007 and spoke about planning his return to southern Europe.

Mr. Kossack said he had only recognized the connection to Brückner this week when the police started digging up the parcel and said: “I remembered his face from the pictures on the news. And I remember his van and his dogs. I had completely forgotten him by then. & # 39;

Last month, a former friend of Brueckner allegedly said that the kidnapping suspect had told him that he had a cellar on another property that he wanted to line with sheets "like Josef Fritzls".

Brueckner, who is currently in prison in Northern Germany, is suspected of having killed Madeleine after she disappeared from her Praia da Luz apartment in May 2007, the same year that Brueckner lived on the plot.

Building material slabs are removed from the allotment garden excavated by investigators in Germany – where Christian Brueckner allegedly lived in the same year that Madeleine McCann disappeared

An excavator on the property near Hanover, where Brücker's former neighbor says that there used to be a shed and a cellar

An excavator on the property near Hanover, where Brücker's former neighbor says that there used to be a shed and a cellar

A map with the location of Brücker's apartment block in Hanover and the vegetable garden searched in northern Germany

A map with the location of Brücker's apartment block in Hanover and the vegetable garden searched in northern Germany

Soft borders would have made it easy to bring Madeleine to Germany

Madeleine's kidnapper would have had little difficulty driving her 1,700 miles from Portugal to Germany because of the continent's open borders.

If Brueckner had kidnapped Madeleine, he would have had to travel through Portugal, Spain, France and possibly the Benelux countries to get to Germany – all members of the open Schengen Agreement since its inception in 1995.

Other German borders were opened later in 2007, including those with the Czech Republic and Poland.

The 2019 Netflix documentary The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann showed footage of cars crossing the border into Spain just hours after Madeleine disappeared. They drove straight past a police patrol to be checked.

Even a van with darkened windows was allowed to cross the border and leave Portugal without having its contents checked.

Ernie Allen, former president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said in the documentary that the Portuguese police "slowly" issued checks.

In conversation with MailOnline, Mr. Kossack said: “Christian Brueckner had the garden next to me. He arrived in 2007 and left within a year. He told me that he lived on the power grid, that he hadn't registered with the authorities – nobody knew he was there.

"He never worked in the garden. He planted nothing and tried not to grow anything. He just sat around drinking beer.

At that time there was a building in the garden. It was a small wooden structure with only one room for tools and other things, but there was a kitchen.

“The building wasn't really a house, you could call it a shed. But it had a basement and under it would be foundations. This building was destroyed in 2008. & # 39;

Bild quoted a neighbor and said that the building with the basement discovered today was removed in late 2007.

Mr. Kossack, a retired electrician, said he recalled that Brueckner took it over in 2007 because the allocations had only been given out by the local authorities the year before.

Brücker's property originally belonged to someone else before it was passed on to the convicted rapist.

Mr. Kossack, who has been maintaining his own property since 2006, said Brueckner disappeared in 2008 and never saw him again.

"Sometimes there was a young woman with him," he said. & # 39; She seemed to be his girlfriend. He had two dogs – a big one and a small one – that were pretty annoying. They would come to my garden to do their business.

"I remember that he called the little dog Ms. Müller (a German nickname for a housewife)."

Before Brueckner left, he spoke about his time outside of Germany. "Brueckner said he preferred southern Europe because he liked the warm weather and said he would return there," said his neighbor.

& # 39; He didn't say which country. He had a VW Transporter Van and parked it next to the property and lived in the vehicle.

& # 39; The van was registered in Hanover, but Brueckner had not paid the tax on the vehicle.

I asked Brücker what he did for a job. He said he was a car mechanic. I asked him why he didn't fix his own van because diesel was always licking the floor. He said he would get there sometime. & # 39;

He added: “I am so sorry for Madeleine McCann's parents. I hope you can find out what happened to your daughter. & # 39;

The police began a second day today to search an allotment near Hanover as part of their investigation into Madeleine McCann near the suspect Christian Brueckner's former home

The police began a second day today to search an allotment near Hanover as part of their investigation into Madeleine McCann near the suspect Christian Brueckner's former home

A special device of the German police who discovered a hidden cellar in the allotment today

A special device of the German police who discovered a hidden cellar in the allotment today

Specialized search dogs that search for corpses and computer equipment are used as part of the extensive investigation that is currently searching the vegetable garden for a second day

Specialized search dogs that search for corpses and computer equipment are used as part of the extensive investigation that is currently searching the vegetable garden for a second day

Investigators arrive behind-the-scenes with their police car equipment while the search continues for an allotment linked to Madeleine's kidnapping suspect, Christian Brueckner, in Germany

Investigators arrive behind-the-scenes with their police car equipment while the search continues for an allotment linked to Madeleine's kidnapping suspect, Christian Brueckner, in Germany

Brücker's last known address in Hanover was in this apartment block, about five kilometers from the parcel that is currently being searched by the German police

Brücker's last known address in Hanover was in this apartment block, about five kilometers from the parcel that is currently being searched by the German police

Brueckner is the main suspect in the kidnapping and murder of three-year-old Madeleine (left) in 2007 when she was on vacation in Praia da Luz

Brueckner (picture) is currently in a German prison in Kiel for a drug-related prison sentence

Christian Brueckner (right) is the main suspect in the kidnapping and murder of three-year-old Madeleine (left) in 2007 when she was on vacation in Praia da Luz

Up to 100 officials with small excavators and sniffer dogs continued to excavate the vegetable garden outside of Hanover, where Brückner lived after the three-year-old disappeared in 2007.

A tent was erected on the property to hide the exact nature of the search, and a wide wire mesh barrier was set up around the plot.

Two small tents were set up in a field opposite the main grave site, while a fleet of German police vehicles lined the side of the small country road as commuter traffic passed.

A block of flats in Hanover has been identified as Brueckner's last known address in the city, and German media say he may have lived off the plot itself – possibly in his caravan.

The German authorities have published only a few details about the allocation search, apart from the confirmation that it was part of the Madeleine investigation.

The parcel is just a short drive from an apartment block where Brücker is known to have lived during his stay in Hanover, and the bar & # 39; Havana Club & # 39;, which he probably visited, is also nearby.

When asked by Bild about Brücker's connection to the allotment, the suspect's lawyer, Friedrich Fuelscher, said he could not comment on the police operation.

When asked why the quota was searched, Fuelscher told the newspaper: "I think we'll find out the reason soon."

According to the local newspaper HAZ, detectives discovered and searched the basement of a pavilion that was once on the site but was long since demolished.

Brueckner is currently in prison for drug-related offenses in Kiel and, after serving two-thirds of his prison term, had initiated a trial for early release.

The two-thirds benchmark was passed on June 7th, raising concerns that it could be released and then disappear before the Maddie case is resolved.

However, he has now dropped his bid even though he still is Appealed from a conviction for raping a 72-year-old woman in 2005 in Praia da Luz, where Madeleine disappeared in 2007.

The drug abuse sentence is expected to keep him behind bars until shortly before the end of January next year. After that, a seven-year prison sentence for the rape is imposed unless he wins his appeal.

An excavator on today's property where the police are looking for a second day but have not released what to expect

An excavator on today's property where the police are looking for a second day but have not released what to expect

A police car stands on a grain field near the garden allocation in northern Germany, which lies on a canal

A police car stands on a grain field near the garden allocation in northern Germany, which lies on a canal

The police today set up a screen on the property near Hanover, on which the German authorities carried out an extensive search

The police today set up a screen on the property near Hanover, on which the German authorities carried out an extensive search

A tent was set up on the search area, in which the police are said to have uncovered a cellar under a long destroyed pavilion

A tent was set up on the search area, in which the police are said to have uncovered a cellar under a long destroyed pavilion

A man is now operating an excavator behind the fence on the property in northern Germany, near the place where the suspect once lived

A man is now operating an excavator behind the fence on the property in northern Germany, near the place where the suspect once lived

Detectives have sacked evidence and discovered a cellar under a long destroyed pavilion yesterday, looking for clues that could link Brueckner to Madeleine's disappearance

Detectives have sacked evidence and discovered a cellar under a long destroyed pavilion yesterday, looking for clues that could link Brueckner to Madeleine's disappearance

Brueckner is said to have worked in a car repair shop in Hanover, and his last known address in Germany was 40 miles away in Braunschweig.

According to German media, he received at least two criminal convictions from a Hanoverian court, one for falsifying documents in 2010 and one for theft in 2013.

According to prosecutors in Hanover, he divided his time between Germany and Portugal between 2013 and 2015.

At the end of 2012, he reportedly opened a small shop in Braunschweig with his girlfriend at the time. After they separated, he continued to run the shop on his own until he gave it up with the adjacent apartment 18 months later.

The police were seen digging the garden with an excavator yesterday after fencing the lot and sending a sniffer dog to assist in their search.

"I can confirm that the search will be conducted in connection with our Maddie investigation," said Julia Meyer of the Braunschweig public prosecutor's office.

Some of the detectives wore forensic suits and put possible evidence in plastic bags, while others used rakes and shovels to search for evidence.

Prosecutor spokeswoman Meyer said she could not provide any further details about the operation, but added that the police "would still need some time to get ready."

The search was carried out by officials from the public prosecutor's office in Braunschweig, where Brückner was convicted of rape last year, and the German federal police.

The police are continuing to dig in the vegetable garden near Hanover in the hope of finding clues that link Brueckner to Madeleine's disappearance

The police are continuing to dig in the vegetable garden near Hanover in the hope of finding clues that link Brueckner to Madeleine's disappearance

A German policeman stands chest-deep in a hole while a sniffer dog is watching on a property near Hanover, where the authorities are digging up a garden in search of Madeleine McCann

A German policeman stands chest-deep in a hole while a sniffer dog is watching on a property near Hanover, where the authorities are digging up a garden in search of Madeleine McCann

The German police yesterday used an excavator in an allotment garden near Hanover in an operation related to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in 2007

The German police yesterday used an excavator in an allotment garden near Hanover in an operation related to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in 2007

The police dug out the garden with "heavy equipment" including an excavator after fencing the plot this morning

A policeman on the property, which was searched today by the German police

The police dug out the garden with "heavy equipment" including an excavator after fencing the plot this morning

What do we know about Maddie's murder suspect Christian Brueckner and his criminal past?

1976: Christian Brueckner was born in Würzburg under a different name. He was adopted by the Brueckner family and adopted their surname.

1992: Brueckner is arrested in his Bavarian hometown of Würzburg on suspicion of burglary.

1994: He is sentenced to two years in prison for "abusing a child" and "performing sexual acts in front of a child".

1995: Brueckner comes to Portugal as an 18-year-old backpacker and starts working in the restaurants in Lagos and Praia da Luz. But friends say he was involved in a criminal syndicate that traded drugs to the Algarve.

September 2005: He puts on a mask and breaks into an apartment where he rapes a 72-year-old American tourist.

The victim was tied up, gagged, blindfolded, and flogged with a metal pipe before being raped for 15 minutes. She said afterwards that he clearly enjoyed "torturing" her before the rape.

April 2007: He moves from a farmhouse into a mobile home that is now linked to the crime. The farmhouse is cleaned and a bag of wigs and "exotic clothes" are found.

May 3, 2007: Madeleine McCann is torn from her bed around 10 p.m. when her parents eat tapas with friends who are only a few meters away. Brücker's cell phone takes him to the area that night. Shortly thereafter, he returns to his home country.

October 2011: He is sentenced to 21 months in prison in Niebüll in northern Germany for “drug trafficking”.

2014: He moves to Braunschweig, where he runs a kiosk in the city center. He then returns to Portugal with a friend.

2016: He is back in Germany. He is sentenced to 15 months in prison for "sexually abusing a child to create and own pornographic material for children."

May 3, 2017: Brueckner is said to be in a bar with a friend when an appeal is made on German television for the tenth anniversary after Madeleine's disappearance. He is said to have told him in a bar that he "knew everything about what happened to her." The friend apparently went to the police.

June 2017: He returns to Portugal and is again extradited to Germany, where he is sentenced to 15 months in prison for the sexual abuse of a child.

August 2018: After being released from prison, he lives on the street. But he was jailed again for drug offenses.

September 2018: Brueckner is arrested in Milan and extradited to Germany to be tried for raping the American tourist after a DNA match with the hair found at the scene.

July 2019: He is sentenced to 21 months in prison for drug trafficking in the northern German resort of Sylt.

August 2019: Brueckner is charged with raping American tourists in Praia da Luz in 2005.

December 2019: He is convicted of raping the tourist on the basis of DNA evidence. He is sentenced to seven years in prison, but has not yet started due to a continuing appeal.

June 4, 2020: Brueckner is named by the German media as the main suspect for Madeleine's disappearance.

The professional criminal Brueckner was identified as the new prime suspect in June after the German police released a number of new pieces of evidence, including details of his cars and phone numbers, and asked people to provide new evidence.

Investigators in Germany at the time said Madeleine was believed dead and went further than the British police who still treat the child's disappearance as a missing person case.

Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, denied having received a letter from German investigators last month saying there was evidence or evidence that Madeleine was dead.

German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters, who heads the German investigation into Madeleine's disappearance, said that a letter had been written to the couple but would not reveal what was inside.

Mr. Wolters said prosecutors have "concrete evidence" but no "forensic evidence" that Madeleine was killed by the suspect and may "know more" than Scotland Yard, who are still treating the case as a missing person investigation.

The city police are continuing their active investigation into Madeleine's disappearance. Operation Grange is an investigation into a missing person because there is no "definitive evidence whether Madeleine is alive or dead."

In the days following the call, Scotland Yard said they had received hundreds of tips from their Operation Grange team.

The Portuguese authorities are also continuing to investigate and searched a number of wells in the Algarve earlier this month.

Police and divers in the Algarve examined a number of disused wells in Vila do Bispo, about 16 km from Praia da Luz.

Several investigators were on site with special diving equipment to examine the wells, with the greatest thought being more than 40 feet deep.

Brueckner is known to have lived in the Algarve, and his Portuguese mobile phone received a half-hour call to Praia da Luz about an hour before Madeleine's disappearance 13 years ago – an important piece of evidence for the German investigation.

The police hope to locate the person who made the call and consider them a key witness to Brücker's movements on the night of Madeleine's disappearance.

Brueckner made his living by doing odd jobs in the area where Madeleine had disappeared, and was also known to have broken into hotel rooms and vacation homes.

He has not yet spoken to investigators who say they are convinced that he has committed other sexual assaults.

Madeleine was missing on May 3, 2007, a few days before her fourth birthday, in her family's apartment in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz when her parents dined with friends in a nearby tapas bar.

Despite a major international manhunt, no trace of her was found, and no one was charged with her disappearance.

In September 2007, Gerry and Kate McCann were questioned by the police as formal suspects. The following July, the Portuguese police closed their investigation into the lack of evidence and released the McCanns from involvement.

The British government has continued to fund Scotland Yard's investigation despite growing doubts as to whether the case could ever be resolved.

McCanns' lawyer, Rogerio Alves, said the police had 22 months to settle the case due to a 15-year statute of limitations in Portugal.

To McCann: The hunt for the main suspect at ITV said Alves: “We have a time barrier of 15 years, even for homicide, murder, certain sex offenses – and even for the most serious type of kidnapping.

“So we're still on time. But now time is running out. & # 39;

German investigators in protective clothing are seen through the trees on Tuesday morning looking for an allotment near Hanover

German investigators in protective clothing are seen through the trees on Tuesday morning looking for an allotment near Hanover

The area was fenced in by the police today after the "heavy equipment" search began four miles outside of Hanover

The area was fenced in by the police today after the "heavy equipment" search began four miles outside of Hanover

Kate and Gerry McCann (pictured together) discovered that their daughter Madeleine was missing in Praia da Luz in May 2007

Kate and Gerry McCann (pictured together) discovered that their daughter Madeleine was missing in Praia da Luz in May 2007

Brueckner's name has also been mentioned in connection with other missing children, some of whom have disappeared in similar circumstances to Madeleine.

In one case, five-year-old Inga Gehricke disappeared from a forest in Saxony-Anhalt in 2015 and the public prosecutor's office confirmed that she was examining possible connections to the McCann case, while Brueckner is currently not a suspect.

He was reported to have property in the town of Neuwegersleben, about 60 miles southwest of Stendal, when Inga was missing.

Regardless, the family of six-year-old German René Hasse, who was missing in the Algarve in 1996, announced that the police were re-investigating the case for the first time in 20 years.

The Dutch police have also prepared a dossier for the German police to look for a possible connection with the disappearance of seven-year-old Jair Soares in 2005.

Jair was missing when he bought chips on August 4, 1995 near the town of Monster in the province of South Holland.

A police spokesman in The Hague confirmed that after announcing their intention to share information, they were now introduced to the case and "in conversation".

He said, "The presentation of the case means that we are checking whether there are similarities between the cases. So we're looking for clues that link them. & # 39;

How the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine McCann developed over 13 years

2007

May 3rd: Gerry and Kate McCann let their three children, including Maddie, sleep in their hotel apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, while eating with friends in a nearby restaurant. When they come back, they find Maddie missing in her bed

May 4th: A friend of the McCanns reports that he saw a man who carried a child away at night. Meanwhile, airports and borders are put on alert as soon as the search begins

May 14: Robert Murat, a developer who lives only a few meters from the hotel, is suspected by the Portuguese police

30th May: The McCanns meet the Pope in Rome to draw global attention to the quest

August 11th: The Portuguese police confirm for the first time in the investigation that Maddie may be dead.

7th of September: The Spanish police force the official McCanns suspects to disappear. The family flies back to England two days later

2008

21 July: Spanish police remove McCanns and Mr. Mural as official suspects as the case is put on hold

2009

1st of May: A computer-generated image of what Maddie might look like two years after she disappeared is released by the McCanns

2011

12th of May: A review of the disappearance is initiated by Scotland Yard at the request of the then Home Secretary, Theresa May

2012

April 25th: After a year of reviewing the case, Scotland Yard announces that they believe Maddie may be alive and asks the Portuguese police to reopen the case, but it falls on deaf ears as "no new evidence" available ".

Kate and Gerry McCann celebrate the fourth anniversary of their daughter Madeleine's disappearance with the publication of the book her mother wrote in 2011

Kate and Gerry McCann celebrate the fourth anniversary of their daughter Madeleine's disappearance with the publication of the book her mother wrote in 2011

2013

July 4th: Scotland Yard opens new investigation and claims to have identified 38 "people of interest"

October 24th: The Portuguese police open a review of the investigation and discover new lines of investigation that force them to reopen the case

2014

January 29th: British officers arrive in Portugal for a detailed investigation. Several locations are searched throughout the year, including a scrubland near the resort

2015

28th of October: British police announce that the team investigating Maddie's disappearance has been reduced from 29 officers to just four after the investigation turns out to have cost £ 10m

2016

3rd of April: Operation Grange receives an additional £ 95,000 from Theresa May to keep the investigation alive for another six months

2017

March 11: Cash is used again to keep the investigation alive. £ 85,000 is granted to run until September before being extended again until April next year

2018

27th of March: The Home Office announces that it has provided additional funds for Operation Grange. The new fund is believed to be £ 150,000

September 11: Parents fear that the police will hunt after the daughter's disappearance and that the new interior minister could postpone her within three weeks due to funding cuts

September 26th: New hope in finding Madeleine McCann when it turns out the Home Office is considering spending more money on the police to find them

2019

April: The controversial new Netflix documentary, which re-examines Maddie's kidnapping, is released, triggering a flood of online abuse against Kate and Gerry by heartless trolls. The couple, who refused to take part in the eight-hour series, struck because it may interfere with the search for their daughter during an active police hunt

June 5: The Ministry of the Interior provides the city police with sufficient funds to start further investigations

June 22: Detectives say they are "closer than ever" to solving the disappearance when they investigate a new suspect. A joint effort by the British and Portuguese police was limited to a "foreign" man who was in the Algarve when she was missing in 2007

December 7th: Paulo Pereira Cristovao, a longtime critic of Maddie's parents, who angered her with a controversial book about the disappearance of puzzles, was convicted of involvement in planning two violent property break-ins in Lisbon and the nearby resort of Cascais. He has been detained for seven and a half years

11th December: Maddie's parents revealed a touching list of what they miss most about their daughter when they spent their 13th Christmas without her

2020

February 22: The Scotland Yard detectives asked a British expat about their German ex-boyfriend. Carol Hickman, 59, claims the police entered their bar in Praia da Luz, Portugal, to ask questions about their former partner

27th of March: Detectives asked for additional money to continue their investigation into the disappearance of the small child in Portugal in 2007. The funds for the operation should be used up by the end of the month

3rd of June: Police announce that a 43-year-old German prisoner has been identified as a suspect of Madeleine's disappearance.

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