Madeleine McCann police ‘search a new property in Hanover with sniffer dogs’ – a week after Portuguese cops said they were ‘shocked’ by lack of evidence against main suspect
- Police descended on the house near Hanover in an eight-hour operation today
- But the search by Madeleine investigators ended with no apparent breakthrough
- German police searched an allotment in July once used by Christian Brueckner
Madeleine McCann police were today searching a new property in Germany, months after digging up an allotment nearby.
Police and sniffer dogs descended on the house near Hanover, where suspect Christian Brueckner once lived, after receiving a tip-off from a member of the public.
Officers were on the scene from early on Wednesday morning, but the current residents of the house were found to be ‘totally blameless’ citizens and the eight-hour search ended without any apparent breakthrough.
Authorities did not give official details of the search, but local newspaper Neue Presse said it was linked to the Madeleine case.
Christian Brueckner (right) is prime suspect in the kidnap and murder of three-year-old Madeleine (left) in 2007 while she was on holiday in Praia da Luz
The assessment of today’s search was downbeat enough that a spokesman even suggested that the tipster could be investigated for making a false complaint.
In July, German police searched a vegetable garden 12 miles away which was once occupied by Brueckner, digging up the allotment in a two-day operation.
The allotment was only a short drive away from an apartment block where Brueckner was registered while living in Hanover, and the ‘Havana Club’ bar which he is thought to have frequented is also nearby.
One gardener said in July that Brueckner had lived off-grid at the allotment in 2007 and talked about planning his return to southern Europe.
‘I remembered his face from the pictures in the news. And I remember his van and his dogs. I had completely forgotten about him up until then,’ said Wolfgang Kossack, 73.
German media says Brueckner received at least two criminal convictions from a Hanover court, one for forging documents in 2010 and another for theft in 2013.
He split his time between Germany and Portugal from 2013 to 2015, prosecutors in Hanover have said.
Brueckner lived in the Algarve for much of the period from 1995 to 2007, and German prosecutors say he received a phone call from a Portuguese number around the time of Madeleine’s disappearance in May 2007.
Police use rakes to search an allotment in Hanover this year where bags of evidence were taken away from a vegetable garden once occupied by Brueckner
Brueckner made a living doing odd jobs in the area where Madeleine disappeared, and was also known to have burgled hotel rooms and holiday flats.
Weeks after the allotment search, authorities indicated they had been looking for digital storage devices, but Brueckner’s lawyer accused them of ‘desperation’.
Since taking the lead in the case earlier this year, German police have struggled to explain what evidence they have about Madeleine’s disappearance.
Last week, a leaked memo revealed that Portuguese investigators were ‘shocked’ by the lack of concrete evidence after being briefed on the case against Brueckner.
Before that, there was confusion about whether German authorities had specific evidence that Madeleine was dead, as they initially implied they did.
Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, have denied receiving a letter from German investigators stating that ‘there is evidence or proof’ Madeleine is dead.
German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters, who is leading the German investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance, said that a letter had been written to the couple, but would not reveal what it said.
Police officers were seen in July carrying large blue bags away from a German allotment which kidnapping suspect Christian Brueckner was once known to frequent
The Metropolitan Police maintain their active investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance, Operation Grange, is a missing person inquiry as there is no ‘definitive evidence whether Madeleine is alive or dead’.
Portuguese authorities are also continuing their investigation and earlier this month searched a series of wells in the Algarve region.
Brueckner is currently in prison for an unrelated drugs conviction, and he is yet to begin a sentence for raping a 72-year-old American woman in Portugal in 2005.
In September, a European court rejected an appeal he had made on procedural grounds against his extradition from Italy to Germany in the drugs case.
A career criminal, he was identified as the new lead suspect in June after German police released a trove of new evidence including details of his cars and phone numbers, urging people to come forward with new tip-offs.
This week it emerged that the 43-year-old was injured while being taken to a parole hearing in Braunschweig.
The Braunschweig court said he sustained injuries to his ribs when law enforcement officers were putting ankle cuffs on him before the hearing Monday.
The court said he was treated in hospital and the parole hearing took place, and he was later returned to prison.
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