Police investigating disappearance of Madeleine McCann ‘to search reservoir’
Material collected in a three-day hunt for evidence over the disappearance of Madeleine McCann will be sent to Germany for testing, the Portuguese police have confirmed.
Officers concluded their search of the Algarve reservoir on Thursday, where key suspect Christian Brueckner reportedly visited “some days” after the three-year-old vanished on May 3, 2007.
Using sniffer dogs and a tractor-based tree-cutter, authorities have been scouring Barragem do Arade reservoir in the Algarve – around 31 miles inland from where the McCanns were staying.
On Tuesday, officers acting on “credible information” were said to be seeking any fragments of clothing and old rags that could be related to her disappearance, as reported by the Daily Mail.
A source close to the investigation told Reuters there was nothing tangible to report while German prosecutor Christian Wolters played down hopes, adding: “Of course, there is a certain expectation, but it is not high.”
Brueckner has denied any involvement and is currently behind bars in Germany for raping a 72-year-old woman in the same part of Portugal.
Madeleine McCann police give update as they end search of Portugal reservoir
Police have said materials unearthed during a three-day hunt for evidence over the disappearance of Madeleine McCann at a remote reservoir in Portugal are being sent off for analysis.
Authorities have been scouring Barragem do Arade reservoir in the Algarve this week, using sniffer dogs and cutting down trees as part of the search inland from the coastal resort where the then-three-year-old went missing in 2007.
As police concluded their three-day search on Thursday, they confirmed “materials collected” had been sent to Germany for analysis.
William Mata25 May 2023 21:01
Who is Christian Brueckner? Madeleine McCann suspect and the accusations against him
German prisoner Christian Brueckner was first named in connection with the unsolved mystery that summer, and officially named as a suspect last year.
His yellow and white VW T3 Westfalia campervan was reportedly identified as having been near to the Praia da Luz resort in Portugal where the young girl went missing on May 3, 2007.
Three-year-old Madeleine disappeared from the bed of her holiday apartment while her parents and family friends dined 180 feet away. Her two-year-old twin siblings were also in the apartment she went missing from. Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann have been searching for answers ever since.
The Metropolitan Police took over the investigation, Operation Grange, in 2011 but they hit dead ends. There has not been another significant suspect in the case since 2007 until Brueckner.
William Mata26 May 2023 00:00
How the search was completed
As part of this latest three-day investigation, police dug holes of around 60cm and these have been left, along with piles of soil, now that authorities have left the digging area.
The surrounding woodland showed pathways had been cut by heavy machinery, leading to the main flattened 160 square-foot excavation area. A no-fly zone was also imposed over the reservoir for the first two days.
In a statement, police in Portugal said: “[The search] resulted in the collection of some material that will be subject to the competent expertise. The material collected will be handed over to the German authorities.”
The new searches come as the Home Office granted an extra £110,000 in funding this financial year for the Metropolitan Police to assist with finding Madeleine, down from just over £300,000 last year.
The total funding given to Operation Grange has been just under £13.1 million since 2011.
William Mata25 May 2023 23:00
German prosecutor plays down hope of a breakthrough
A source close to the investigation told Reuters there was nothing tangible to report, while German prosecutor Christian Wolters played down hopes of a breakthrough, saying: “Of course, there is a certain expectation, but it is not high.”
He added that the investigators were looking for a body, but also for anything that could help the investigation, such as clothing.
Mr Wolters said he did not expect the results of the studies of the collected samples to be announced any time soon.
William Mata25 May 2023 22:00
Officers photograph excavation site before police told to stand down
Police were seen photographing an excavation site near the banks of a remote reservoir in Portugal as the fresh Madeleine McCann searches entered a third day.
Officers maintained their focus on an area of woodland on a peninsula at the Barragem do Arade on Thursday after a digging operation was commenced on Wednesday afternoon.
Heavy machinery, which had been used to cut through the vast undergrowth, was removed from the search area on Thursday afternoon amid reports that officers had been told to stand down by 4pm.
A large section of the Barragem do Arade has been cordoned off since Tuesday morning, around 30 miles from where Madeleine went missing in 2007.
Officers used shovels to excavate their area of focus, and sniffer dogs and pickaxes have also been deployed over the course of the searches.
As some concentrated on the digging site, others used rakes and shovels to scour the surrounding area, slowly making their way through the recently trimmed undergrowth.
The operation is being carried out at the request of German investigators who believe their prime suspect, convicted sex offender Christian Brueckner, 45, kidnapped and murdered the youngster.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain25 May 2023 14:57
How much has the Madeleine McCann investigation cost?
Sixteen years after Madeleine McCann vanished from the Algarve holiday apartment where she was sleeping next to her infant twin siblings, police have launched a major new search for evidence.
After laying dormant for several years since David Cameron kickstarted an ultimately fruitless Metropolitan Police inquiry in 2011, the case of the missing three-year-old was revived once more in 2020 when German prosecutors revealed a new suspect.
But three years on, 43-year-old convicted paedophile Christian Brueckner – who denies any connection to the missing youngster – is yet to be charged, as he languishes in a German prison for the rape of a 72-year-old American woman two years prior to Madeleine’s disappearance at the same resort.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain25 May 2023 14:30
ICYMI: Who is Christian Brueckner? Madeleine McCann suspect and the accusations against him
German prisoner Christian Brueckner was first named in connection with the unsolved mystery that summer, and officially named as a suspect last year. His yellow and white VW T3 Westfalia campervan was reportedly identified as having been near to the Praia da Luz resort in Portugal where the young girl went missing on May 3, 2007.
Maroosha Muzaffar25 May 2023 14:00
In pictures: Scenes at Portugal reservoir today
Maryam Zakir-Hussain25 May 2023 13:30
Watch: Madeleine McCann: Sniffer dogs and pickaxes used to scour reservoir
Madeleine McCann: Sniffer dogs and pickaxes used to scour reservoir
Maroosha Muzaffar25 May 2023 13:00
Portugal reservoir search to end in hours as police told to ‘stand down’
An investigation has been taking place since Tuesday this week after German detectives were informed by a “very credible source” that key suspect Christian Brueckner visited the reservoir “some days” after Madeleine vanished.
However, The Mirror reported that a police souce said: “The GNR has received instructions to stand down at 4pm local time.”
The Barragem do Arade is around 31 miles from the Praia da Luz resort where Maddy disappeared. Investigators believe the 45-year-old killed Madeleine, then aged three, after abducting her from a holiday apartment.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain25 May 2023 12:58