June 6, 2020 / 11:46 AM / 2 months ago

Portuguese prosecutors to trawl German suspect's records in McCann case

LISBON/BERLIN (Reuters) - Portugal’s prosecutor’s office said on Saturday it would pore over its files to see if a German man suspected of murdering British girl Madeleine McCann, who disappeared in the southern Algarve region in 2007, has a criminal record there.

A man excersises at the beach in Praia da Luz, the town with the resort in which three-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared in 2007, Portugal, June 6, 2020. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

Germany is investigating a 43-year-old German national on suspicion of murder, the Braunschweig state prosecutor said on Thursday..

Lawyer Jan-Christian Hochmann confirmed to Reuters on Saturday he was representing the suspect, Christian B., but declined to comment.

German police said on Wednesday that the suspect lived in the Algarve between 1995 and 2007 and that he worked in the catering industry while also burgling holiday flats and drug dealing. The suspect is currently in detention over a different matter.

On Friday, the prosecutor general’s office in Portugal said there were no records of crimes committed by the suspect in the Algarve.

However on Saturday, asked specifically about German court documents citing his past convictions in Portugal and his own confession in a German court of at least two cases of theft, the prosecutor’s office said, “Given the new elements that have arisen, we will revise our search”.

The Portuguese prosecutors said on Friday that the only records they had of the suspect were five requests for international judiciary cooperation, at least one related to the McCann case. They would not say if the man had ever been investigated in Portugal in relation to the McCann case.

McCann, aged 3, vanished from her bedroom on May 3, 2007 while her parents were dining with friends nearby in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz, sparking an international search.

In Germany, the Braunschweig state prosecutor said on Thursday the suspect was a sex offender with multiple convictions, including for sexual abuse of children, and that authorities assumed the child was dead. No body has ever been found.

Joaquim Braz, 50, who lives near Praia da Luz, said he remembered the suspect: “I didn’t like him very much. I remember him very well but he kept to himself”.

Strolling by the beach on Saturday in Praia da Luz, Danny Townsend, 53, who bought his holiday home the year McCann vanished and moved there permanently 18 months ago from England, said it was important that the authorities got to the bottom of what happened.

“It’s a nice place and it would be great if we could get to the point it’s resolved and people can move on but in the meantime we have to live with it I guess,” added Townsend.

Additional reporting by Catarina Demony in Praia da Luz, Maria Sheahan and Joern Poltz in Germany; Writing by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Frances Kerry

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