December 6. 2023. 6:33

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Who is Madeleine McCann and what happened to her?

Portuguese Police searched a reservoir in the vicinity of the spot where Madeleine McCann, a British 3-year-old girl, disappeared in 2007.

This was the latest development in the search to find McCann, whose disappearance sixteen years ago sparked a global hunt that attracted huge media attention.


Madeleine McCann was three years old when she vanished on May 3, 2007. Her parents Kate and Gerry were eating with friends, who became known as "Tapas 7", at a restaurant nearby.

Police in the area concluded that it was a kidnapping after a break-in occurred while Madeleine, her twin babies and their mother were sleeping. The family expressed concern over what they deemed a slow police response at first and the failure to secure a crime scene.


The case of the missing blonde girl with distinctive blue eyes has been covered in the media around the globe.

The McCanns initially turned to the media for help in finding their daughter. This case attracted global attention, with David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, and others joining the appeals for more information. They also met the Pope.

No body has been found and her fate is still a mystery. A website is still active to help find her, and a Facebook page created to support the campaign boasts over half a millon followers.

Timeline of the Investigation

Media attention led to reports of Madeleine being spotted around the world. The initial investigation of the Portuguese police did not yield any major leads, and detectives then began to focus their attention on the parents.


Police questioned Gerry and Kate McCann in September 2007 as formal suspects. In July of the following year, Portuguese police ended their investigation due to a lack evidence and cleared Gerry and Kate McCann of any involvement.

The couple, and their friends who were with them the night Madeleine disappeared, successfully sued several British tabloids on grounds of libel after they suggested that the pair was involved in the disappearance of their daughter.

A Portuguese court in 2015 ordered that a former investigator who was involved in the original investigation pay damages to the McCanns for claiming in a book the girl died in an accident, and her parents covered it up.

Ten British newspapers also awarded damages for libel to a British man whose mother lived near the McCanns apartment. They had accused him of involvement in Madeleine’s abduction.

After being contacted in 2011 by the McCanns, then British Prime Minister David Cameron requested a police review.

In 2013, the British police launched Operation Grange, claiming to have identified 38 possible suspects.

They released an efit image later that year of a few men. The Portuguese prosecutor ordered that the local police reopen the case.

Four suspects were interviewed by the Portuguese police, but none of them was found to be involved. A search of a waste area near Praia da Luz by British detectives also did not yield any results.

Later, British detectives suggested that Madeleine could have been one of many victims of a number of sexual assaults against British children in Portugal from 2004 to 2010.

Detectives warned that they may never solve the case, despite following crucial lines of inquiry.

Who is German suspect CHRISTIAN BRUECKNER?

In June 2020 the British and German Police announced that they had identified a suspect. The 43-year old German man was the new suspect. Later, a German prosecutor said that Madeleine’s death was assumed.

Christian Brueckner lived in Algarve from 1995 to 2007 and burglarized hotels, holiday apartments, and traded drugs. In 2019, he was jailed seven years for raping and robbing an American woman, 72, in her Algarve home.

He was officially identified as a suspect by the Portuguese police in April of last year. However, he has not been charged for any crimes relating to Madeleine.

A German court threw out unrelated rapes and sexual offences against Brueckner last month. Friedrich Fuelscher, his lawyer, said the ruling meant that legal authorities in the city of Braunschweig had no jurisdiction to hear the McCann trial.

Police began searching a dam Tuesday morning (23 May), just inland of the resort where Madeleine was last seen.

How much has the search cost?

The British government has provided more than £15 million to Operation Grange. The authorities in Germany and Portugal did not provide any estimate of the cost.

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