German prosecutors tell Madeleine McCann's parents she is dead by letter

15 June 2020, 22:18 | Updated: 15 June 2020, 23:04

The German prosecutor handling the Madeleine McCann case has written to her parents to tell them she is dead
The German prosecutor handling the Madeleine McCann case has written to her parents to tell them she is dead. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The German prosecutor leading the Madeleine McCann investigation has written to her parents to tell them she is dead, but "can't say" how he knows.

Hans Christian Wolters is leading the case into Christian Brueckner, the 43-year-old German man named as the main suspect into the toddler's disappearance from Praia da Luz in 2007.

His identification indicated German authorities have made a large breakthrough in the case, but they have not yet shared their evidence with Scotland Yard.

They have reportedly shared some evidence with Portuguese police who have said it is "significant" and "very important".

It is understood the McCann's could be told about the evidence within days as their Portuguese lawyer is set to met with prosecutors in the coming days.

Kate and Gerry McCann have been contacted by German authorities
Kate and Gerry McCann have been contacted by German authorities. Picture: PA

Scotland Yard's Operation Grange still considers the case a missing person inquiry because there is no "definitive evidence whether Madeleine is alive or dead"

Mr Wolters told the Mirror: “We have re-established contact with the McCann family in writing.

"We, of course, really consider the fact that it is going to be very hard for the family when we tell them we assume Madeline is dead.

“But we can’t say why she is dead.

"It is more important that we are successful and we are able to get the culprit, as opposed to just putting our cards on the table and tell them why we think she might be.”

Kate and Gerry McCann have not yet responded to the letter.

However, Mr Wolters yesterday was reported as saying there was "a little bit of hope" she could still be alive.

Speaking to the the Sunday Mirror, he said there was "no forensic evidence" Madeleine is dead.

"Because there is no forensic evidence, there may be a little bit of hope (that she is alive)," he told the paper.

"We don't want to kill the hope and because there is no forensic evidence it may be theoretically possible.

"I know it's important for the British people when I say she is dead, but I did not know it was so important."

In a separate update, Mr Wolters told The Sunday Times prosecutors were looking into the possibility that an employee at the hotel may have assisted the suspect in targeting the McCanns' apartment, knowing they at a nearby restaurant.

The young girl, who would have turned 17 last month, disappeared just days before her fourth birthday
The young girl, who would have turned 17 last month, disappeared just days before her fourth birthday. Picture: PA

Brueckner is known to have lived on the Algarve coast and his Portuguese mobile phone received a half-hour phone call in Praia da Luz around an hour before Madeleine, then three, went missing on 3 May 2007.

There is no suggestion the member of staff knew about Madeleine's kidnap in advance, and Mr Wolters said: "The phone call made by the suspect could be between him and a member of staff who told him when to break into the McCanns' apartment."

The young girl, who would have turned 17 last month, disappeared just days before her fourth birthday while her parents were at a nearby tapas restaurant with friends.

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