Tonight with Andrew Marr 6pm - 7pm
Maddie McCann prosecutors probe whether she was killed after sale to child traffickers
7 May 2022, 11:57 | Updated: 7 May 2022, 13:37
Prosecutors are understood to be investigating whether Madeleine McCann was killed after being snatched and sold to a child trafficking gang.
Listen to this article
German prosecutor Hans Christian Walters, who is leading the investigation with Portuguese and British detectives, previously revealed that Christian Brueckner was the prime suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine, then three.
Mr Wolters has now acknowledged the theory that Madeleine could have been snatched and sold to a child trafficking gang, before being killed.
He told Portugal TV investigator Sandra Felgueiras he could not comment on the speculation that she was "sold". But when pressed on whether Madeleine was sold to the suspect, he replied: “Maybe, it’s a possibility.”
Madeleine vanished from the apartment she slept in with her two younger siblings in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in 2007, while her parents visited a nearby tapas bar.
Despite numerous "sightings" over the years, Madeleine has never been found.
If still alive, Madeleine would be turning 19 on May 13.
Mr Wolters said he believes Madeleine is dead and that 45-year-old Brueckner was the man responsible.
The German prosecutor insists they have "significant evidence" but "not forensic evidence" against Brueckner, after it was reported investigators discovered "evidence" of Madeleine in a campervan belonging to the suspect.
"We have found new facts and new evidence," he said previously.
"It's not forensic evidence but evidence and because of our evidence, we are sure he is the murderer of Madeleine McCann. We are sure he killed Madeleine."
When asked on Portuguese TV whether it was "true that you have found something of Madeleine McCann in Christian Brueckner's van", Mr Wolters replied: "I'm not going to comment on the details of the investigation.
"But you can't deny it?" the interviewer asked.
"I don't want to deny it," he said.
He later added: "Because the suspect has not yet been informed."
The possibility that Madeleine was kidnapped to order for a child trafficking gang has been raised before but there has never been any real elements to back the theory up.
Five years ago former Scotland Yard officer Colin Sutton suggested a "kidnap to order" was the most likely and credible scenario for her disappearance.
Brueckner, who was identified as a murder suspect by German prosecutors in June 2020, has reportedly denied any involvement in the case and has not been charged.
According to Sky, he has claimed to have an alibi, revealing he was having sex in his camper van with a woman at the time of Madeleine's disappearance.
Brueckner is serving a seven-year jail term for a brutal 2005 sex attack on a 72-year-old woman and his application for early release has been rejected by the German authorities.
On Monday, it was 15 years to the day that Madeleine disappeared, with her parents Kate and Gerry McCann saying it is "essential" they learn the true horrors of the crime.
In a message on the Official Find Madeleine Campaign Facebook page on Monday, the McCanns wrote: "This year we mark 15 years since we last saw Madeleine.
"It feels no harder than any other but no easier either. It's a very long time.
"Many people talk about the need for 'closure'. It's always felt a strange term.
"Regardless of outcome, Madeleine will always be our daughter and a truly horrific crime has been committed. These things will remain.
"It is true though that uncertainty creates weakness; knowledge and certainty give strength, and for this reason our need for answers, for the truth, is essential.
"We are grateful for the ongoing work and commitment of the UK, Portuguese and German authorities as it is this combined police effort which will yield results and bring us those answers.
"As always, we would like to thank all of our supporters for their continued good wishes and support.
"It is a huge comfort to know that regardless of time passed, Madeleine is still in people's hearts and minds.