On Thursday, almost 15 years later, Portuguese police identified German-native Christian Brueckner as an “arguido,” translated to “named suspect” or “formal suspect.”
Brueckner has not been charged over the case, and his lawyers deny any involvement of their client in McCann’s disappearance.
He is currently serving a prison sentence in Germany for drug charges. Brueckner was also given a seven-year sentence for raping a 72-year-old woman in 2005 in Praia da Luz, where McCann went missing.
In 2020, German police revealed they were investigating Brueckner in connection to McCann’s disappearance.
The statement issued Thursday by Portuguese police did not formally name Brueckner, instead saying the suspect was identified previously by German authorities. The statement claims authorities have “strong indications” of Brueckner’s involvement in the crime.
It is unclear whether Brueckner will be extradited to Portugal for formal questioning.
Timing is of the utmost importance in this case now, as Portugal’s 15-year statute of limitations declares a person of interest cannot be named after that point. May 3, 2022 will mark 15 years since the disappearance of McCann.
McCann, who would be 18 years old now, was never found.
The girl went missing from the apartment where her family was staying in Portugal, just a few days before her fourth birthday. McCann’s parents dined with friends at a nearby tapas bar, leaving the girl and her two siblings asleep in the bedroom.
According to the Guardian, Brueckner lived in the Algarve in Portugal between 1995 and 2007.