Portugal police end fresh search for missing British girl

Police search teams prepare to leave an operation tent near Barajam do Arade, Portugal, Wednesday May 24, 2023.

Joao Matos/AP

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Joao Matos/AP

Police search teams prepare to leave an operation tent near Barajam do Arade, Portugal, Wednesday May 24, 2023.

Joao Matos/AP

LISBON, Portugal – Police in Portugal have ended the latest search for clues in the disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann, who went missing in 2007 in southern Portugal.

Authorities did not provide any details on Thursday about the results of the search. A statement from Portugal’s Judiciary Police said some material had been collected and would be handed over to German authorities for investigation.

The search around a dam about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Praia da Luz resort, where a 3-year-old girl was last seen 16 years ago, began on Tuesday following a request from German authorities.

A German man who is a suspect in the case is currently in prison in Germany on a separate case.

Portuguese, German and British police took part in the three-day operation, during which detectives probed the shores of the Aradé Reservoir and also used sniffer dogs and a drone.

German prosecutor Christian Wolters told The Associated Press on Thursday that authorities would assess the success of the search after it concluded, adding that a statement could be issued next week.

Portuguese media said this was the fourth police search for the McCanns, following an initial one in 2007 in the southern Algarve region, and further attempts in 2013 and 2014. Another search was conducted in Germany in 2020.

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The reservoir is less than half full due to a drought affecting Portugal and neighboring Spain. The find would have been below the waterline under normal rainfall.

In mid-2020, German authorities said that a 45-year-old German national, identified by the media as Christian Brueckner, who had been in the Algarve in 2007, was a suspect in the case. Bruckner has denied any involvement.

Brueckner is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence in Germany for raping a 72-year-old woman in Portugal in 2005.

He is under investigation for suspicion of murder in the McCann case, but has not been charged. They spent several years in Portugal, including in Praia da Luz, at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance.

Madeleine McCann’s case generated worldwide interest for many years, with reports of her sightings spreading as far away as Australia, along with books and television documentaries about the case.

British, Portuguese and German police are still working together to investigate what happened the night the baby girl went missing from her bed in a southern Portuguese resort on May 3, 2007. old at the time, while his parents had dinner with friends at a nearby restaurant.

Madeleine’s parents did not comment because of the active investigation, according to an email response from the website set up to search for the child, Findmadeleine.com.

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