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European Court rejects appeal from Madeleine McCann suspect

Christian Brückner in an Italian police photo.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg has turned down an appeal against an arrest warrant brought by Christian Brückner, the man suspected of being linked to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Portugal in 2007.

Madeleine, aged three, disappeared from a holiday home in Praia da Luz in May 2007, while her parents were dining with friends in a nearby restaurant. Since that evening, the investigation has failed to progress, despite receiving many tips from the public, and assistance from British police.

Then in June this year, German police let it be known they were looking at 43-year-old German national Brückner as a person of interest in the case. Brückner has led an itinerant lifestyle, which being linked to a number of crimes.

One of those was the rape of a 72-year-old American woman in 2005, also in Praia da Luz. Police in Germany arrested Brückner on an international warrant from Italy relating to a drugs offence, which earned him a sentence of 21 months. When he came due for a release on parole he was turned down twice. Then a court gave him an additional seven-year sentence for the rape.

Brückner appealed to Germany’s highest court, the Bundesgerichtshof, claiming the international warrant was illegal, and his arrest in Germany on a drugs warrant did not allow him to be tried for a separate offence in another jurisdiction.

The Bundesgerichtshof applied to the ECJ for a ruling on the EU legal aspects of the case. And the court, following the opinion of its advocate-general, rejected the appeal.

Brückner will now have to serve out his seven-year sentence in Germany. In the meantime, police in the UK and Portugal will continue to investigate his possible involvement in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

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