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Madeleine McCann: Portugal reservoir search ends after three days

Original source (on modern site) | Article images: [1]

Media caption,

Watch: The BBC's Daniel Sandford was at the reservoir in Portugal after the police search ended

By Daniel Sandford, home affairs correspondent, and Navtej Johal

BBC News

A fresh search linked to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Portugal has ended.

Portuguese authorities said material recovered during the three-day operation around the Arade reservoir in the Algarve would now be analysed.

The German police-led operation was looking for evidence to link the British toddler's disappearance to Christian Brueckner, a German national.

He was made a formal suspect by Portuguese prosecutors in 2022.

German prosecutors have named Brueckner as the main suspect in their Madeleine McCann murder investigation. British police do not use that phrase, saying that as far as they are concerned it is still a missing person investigation.

The search at the Arade reservoir near Silves was part of the German investigation. They asked Portuguese officials for assistance, and the Metropolitan Police said its officers were also in Portugal so they can inform Madeleine's family of any developments.

A statement from Portugal's national police agency said the "collected material" from the scene will be delivered to the German authorities for further inspection.

All the work carried out around the reservoir was on a peninsula jutting out into the Arade dam from its Western shore - 31 miles (50km) from where Madeleine went missing in Praia da Luz 16 years ago.

Officers were seen using rakes and hoes, strimmers and a small excavator to clear paths through the scrub on a nearby slope - the sound of machinery at work audible in the remote area.

Police also dug a number of smaller holes, leaving huge piles of soil and broken rock next to the 160 sq ft (14 sq m) excavation area.

The spit of land has a small car park on it, which is often used as an unofficial campsite.

Brueckner, a 45-year-old German national, is thought to have stayed there often in his Volkswagen T3 camper van.

He is also known to have visited the picturesque spot around the time Madeleine, who would now be 20, went missing.

White tents were set up on the site and sniffer dogs were used. However, no divers were seen going under the water.

German authorities have not revealed what triggered the latest search operation but state prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters said they were acting on the basis of "certain tips".

He told German public broadcaster NDR: "We have indications that we could find evidence there. I don't want to say what that is exactly, and I also don't want to say where these indications come from.

"The only thing that I would clarify is that it doesn't come from the suspect - so we don't have a confession or anything similar now, or an indication from the suspect of where it would make sense to search."

Mr Wolters is treating Brueckner as the main suspect in Madeleine's case, although he has never been charged over Madeleine's disappearance and has denied any involvement.

Madeleine disappeared from a holiday apartment in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz on 3 May 2007, nine days before her fourth birthday.

Hers has become one of the most infamous missing person's cases in modern times, attracting attention in countries across Europe, and in America and Australia.

News crews from around the world remain stationed around the Arade reservoir, where they are reporting the latest developments.

Brueckner was living near the Praia da Luz resort when the McCann family was on holiday, and he spent time in the area between 2000 and 2017.

He is currently in prison in Germany for the rape of a 72-year-old woman in 2005 in the same area where Madeleine went missing.

Image source, PA Media

Image caption,

Police were seen searching a peninsula jutting out into the Arade dam from its Western shore

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