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23rd May 2023

Madeleine McCann cop says clue from German police shows ‘they clearly know something’

Steve Hopkins

‘There’s every likelihood that the bones may well be intact’

A police officer who worked on the original Madeleine McCann case believes German police “clearly know something” as a new search for the missing Brit got underway near a dam on Tuesday.

At the request of German investigators, Portuguese police began searching around Arade dam, about 30 miles from Praia da Luz, where Madeleine was last seen alive just before her fourth birthday on 3 May 2007. She went missing from her room, where she was sleeping along with her two siblings, while her parents were at dinner 130 feet away.

The reservoir is said to be a favourite spot of convicted German rapist Christian Brückner, who is the key suspect. He is currently in prison for raping a 72-year-old woman in the same area of the Algarve region where Madeleine went missing but has not been charged with any crime related to the disappearance. He has always maintained that he was not involved.

Jim Gamble, who led the UK’s own review of the disappearance of Madeleine, told the Mirror that the German police’s statements around the development are “uncharacteristic” and imply they are certain she is dead.

“From my point of view, the German police clearly know something. They have a level of confidence when they talk about their suspect and Madeleine’s death.”

He continued: “But they have not shared specific reasons with the public, as you don’t want to give your suspect any more information than you have to until you’re ready to charge them.”

Gamble says the evidence against Brückner is “all very powerful” but he urged caution around assuming he is guilty, saying: “Up to it until he’s charged people need to be consciously aware that it could be someone else.”

The area where police are searching was examined twice in 2008 by divers hired by a private Portuguese lawyer, but Gamble says this doesn’t mean there won’t be a breakthrough this time.

“The German police now have active lines of inquiry and advancement of technology. Any land-based searches or indeed anything found in the water can be forensically interrogated in ways that might not have been quite so easy 16 years ago”, he said.

Portuguese broadcaster SIC suggested any biological traces have likely disappeared because of the waterways in the area, but investigators could be looking for other elements, such as objects or clothes that could serve as evidence.

Gamble said even if investigators find the “smallest, minuscule fragment of bone” new DNA advances would produce an identity.

He continued: “It is really difficult to say whether there will be any preserved evidence, but as I’ve said, there’s every likelihood that the bones may well be intact.”

Gamble told the Mirror that he “absolutely” believes the public will find out what happened to Madeleine “during my lifetime”.

The McCanns released a statement on May 12 on what was her 20th birthday, saying: “We love you and we’re waiting for you. We’re never going to give up.” That followed an earlier message, to make the 16th anniversary of her disappearance, when they pledged to never five up hope.

Read the Mirror’s article here.