Madeleine McCann 'assumed dead' by German police

4 June 2020, 14:12 | Updated: 4 June 2020, 15:36

By Kate Buck

German police believe Madeleine McCann is dead, and have named a key suspect in her murder.

The German police said the suspect has been convicted of child sex crimes in the past.

Hans Christian Wolters, a spokesman for the Braunschweig Public Prosecutor's Office, said: "In connection with the disappearance of the three-year-old British girl Madeleine McCann on May 3 2007 from an apartment complex in Praia da Luz, in Portugal, the Braunschweig prosecution is investigating against a 43-year-old German on suspicion of murder.

A man has been charged with murder
Madeleine McCann is assumed dead, police said. Picture: PA

"We are assuming that the girl is dead.

"With the suspect, we are talking about a sexual predator who has already been convicted of crimes against little girls and he's already serving a long sentence."

Between 1995 and 2007 he spent a great deal of time on the Algarve, close to the resort of Praia da Luz where Madeleine went missing and was known to have several jobs in catering.

Madeleine was three when she went missing
Madeleine was three when she went missing. Picture: PA

He has not yet been officially named, but was previously described by German authorities as being 43 years old, white, with short blond hair, possibly fair, and about 6ft tall with a slim build at the time Maddie vanished.

Although German police are treating her disappearance as murder, the Met's Operation Grange has always considered the case a missing person inquiry.

Earlier today, German authorities also said they want to trace individuals who could have "concrete knowledge" of what happened to Madeleine.

Yesterday, Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry McCann said they would "never give up hope of finding Madeleine alive" but added they need to know to find peace.

"We would like to thank the police forces involved for their continued efforts in the search for Madeleine," they added.

"All we have ever wanted is to find her, uncover the truth and bring those responsible to justice.

"We will never give up hope of finding Madeleine alive, but whatever the outcome may be, we need to know as we need to find peace.

Kate and Gerry McCann say they will never give up hope of finding Madeleine alive
Kate and Gerry McCann say they will never give up hope of finding Madeleine alive. Picture: PA

"We will be making no further comment in relation to the appeal today."

Christian Hoppe, from Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) said they will not "rule out" other accomplices.

“Besides the initial offender there might be others who have known about the crime, the location of Maddie’s body or even participated in the crime,” he said.

Scotland Yard is launching a joint appeal with the BKA and the Portuguese Policia Judiciaria (PJ), including a £20,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person responsible of Madeleine's disappearance.

The Met's investigation has identified more than 600 people as potentially significant and were tipped off about the German national, already known to detectives, following a 2017 appeal 10 years after she went missing.

An earlier version of this story said that a man had been charged. This was due to a translation error. We apologise for any confusion.

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