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Police in Portugal to search reservoir in Madeleine McCann investigation

Police in Portugal to search reservoir in Madeleine McCann investigation

Searches as part of the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann are set to take place in Portugal, police in the European country have confirmed.

The Policia Judiciaria said in a press statement that it is co-ordinating searches in the Algarve over the next few days, at the request of the German police and in the presence of British officers.

An area near the Barragem do Arade reservoir, around 50km from Praia da Luz where Madeleine went missing in 2007, is being sealed off as searches are expected to start on Tuesday, Portuguese news website SIC reported.

It said that the prime suspect in her disappearance, convicted sex offender Christian Brueckner, spent time in the area between 2000 and 2017.

Investigators believe the 45-year-old killed Madeleine, then aged three, after abducting her from a holiday apartment.

Brueckner, who has reportedly denied any involvement in the youngster’s disappearance, was identified as a murder suspect in the McCann case by Portuguese officials in June 2020.

He is facing charges in Germany over a number of separate sex offences allegedly committed in Portugal during that time.

German authorities have not commented but it is understood they will release a brief press statement about the search on Tuesday morning.

Images of Portuguese officers walking along dry tracks near the reservoir and sealing off areas with police tape emerged on Monday afternoon.

It is not the first time that the reservoir has been searched.

Madeleine McCann anniversary
Kate and Gerry McCann (Joe Giddens/PA)

In 2008 Portuguese lawyer Marcos Aragao Correia paid for specialist divers to check the waterway after he claimed to have been tipped off by criminal contacts that Madeleine’s body was in the reservoir.

The most recent search in Portugal in relation to her disappearance was in 2014, when British police were given permission to examine scrubland near where she vanished.

Earlier this month, Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry issued a short statement on their Find Madeleine Campaign website to mark the 16th anniversary of her disappearance.

They said: “Today marks the 16th anniversary of Madeleine’s abduction.

“Still missing… still very much missed.

“It is hard to find the words to convey how we feel.

“The police investigation continues, and we await a breakthrough.”