A renewed search for the body of a presumed-dead little girl Madeleine McCann turned up several items of interest in southern Portugal last week, according to German law enforcement.
The true importance of the recovered materials is yet to be seen.
“The search operation carried out last week in the area of the Arade reservoir in Portugal ended on Thursday after three days as planned,” the Braunschweig Public Prosecutor’s Office – the equivalent of a district attorney’s office – said in a statement obtained by Sky News.
“A previously precisely defined area along the reservoir was completely searched for possible evidence,” the prosecutor’s statement continues. “A number of items were seized as part of the operation. These will be evaluated in the coming days and weeks. It is not yet possible to say whether some of the items are actually related to the Madeleine McCann case.”
According to Sky News correspondent Siobhan Robbins, investigators left the area after three days with “white bags.”
McCann was 3 years old when she went missing in May 2007, while her family was vacationing in Algarve, Portugal. She was apparently left in the family’s rented apartment with her brother while their mother and father went to a tapas restaurant.
The Barragem do Arade reservoir where the searches occurred beginning last Tuesday is located some 31 miles away from the oceanside apartment where the McCann family was staying in the popular-with-tourists Praia da Luz resort area, according to the Reuters wire service.
The McCann family is from Rothley, Leicestershire, England.
In 2020, German authorities said they believed the girl is dead and they they have “concrete evidence” of her murder that has, to this day, yet to be made public; their prime suspect in McCann’s presumed murder is convicted pedophile Cristian Brueckner, 46, who is currently serving a prison sentence in Bremen, Germany, for the 2005 rape of a 72-year-old American woman in Praia da Luz.
The area recently searched was long one of Brueckner’s favorite haunts in Portugal. He was first publicly connected to the McCann case in 2020. Last year, German police formally identified him as a suspect; Portuguese authorities later did the same.
Brueckner, for his part, has consistently denied any involvement in the toddler’s disappearance and likely death. In 2017, he was convicted of child sex abuse charges in Germany; before that, in 1994, he was also convicted of child sex crimes.
“The investigations conducted here in Braunschweig against the 46-year-old suspect are expected to continue for some time,” the German prosecutor’s office said in the Thursday statement.
The day before the search began, police and Portuguese Civil Protection agents set up tents and other structures as they began sealing off part of a peninsula leading into the area. Several small speed boats could be seen careering through the reservoir in search of evidence for days. Police also used “sniffer dogs” to search the scrubland adjacent to the waters, according to ABC News.
The search operation was led by German investigators – on their request – with assistance from the Portuguese Policia Judiciaria. Additionally, officers with Scotland Yard, from the United Kingdom, watched the progress of the search but had a more hands-off role.
“Sincere thanks go out to all police officers involved in the search,” the Braunschweig prosecutor continued. “The cooperation between the Portuguese police, the police officers from Great Britain and the Federal Criminal Police Office was excellent and very constructive.”
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