Kate and Jerry McCann’s daughter was only three years old when she disappeared from their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz resort, Portugal, on May 3, 2007, sparking an international hunt. She was never found, and no one has been charged with her disappearance.
On Wednesday, police in Britain and Germany identified the new suspect as a 43-year-old German man. The UK authorities described this development as an “important new line of inquiry”, while German authorities revealed that the suspect had previously been convicted of child sexual assault.
The family spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said on Thursday that the resumption of British and German police was “the first time in more than 13 years that I remember.” [police] Focusing on one individual. “
“Kate and Jerry feel that they are likely to be of great importance,” Mitchell told BBC radio. “This is another important chapter in the search for their daughter.”
The state prosecutor’s office in Braunschweig, in the state of Lower Saxony, said in a statement on Wednesday that the suspect is currently serving a “long” prison sentence “for an unrelated matter.” The office said he was now being investigated for a “possible murder” linked to a whereabouts.
On Thursday, Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Hans Christian Walters told CNN that his office was assuming that McCann had died. Wolters said they will not clarify any evidence they have to support this as it is an ongoing investigation.
Walters also explained that if the investigation leads to charges and a trial, the suspect will be tried in Germany, because murder is a criminal offense in Germany, as is the case in Portugal, regardless of where the crime is carried out.
In an “Aktenzeichen XY Unsolved” crime-show in Germany on the public broadcasting station ZDF Wednesday evening, Christian Hope of the German Federal Bureau of Investigation said that no body had been found but “the FBI investigation instead led to the assumption that He would not be a victim of murder. “
In a statement sent to CNN on Wednesday, the parents of the missing girl thanked “the police forces involved for their continued efforts to find Madeleine.”
“All we wanted was to find her, reveal the truth, and bring those responsible to justice. We will never lose hope in finding Madeleine alive, but whatever the outcome, we need to know what we need to find peace.”
In his interview with BBC Radio 4, Mitchell emphasized that although German police classify it as a murder investigation, British police still treat it as a missing persons case.
He explained that “a British citizen is still missing, and the British police were in pain to say that there is absolutely no evidence that she was damaged, or died, or was really alive, so she literally keeps her mind open.” .
The suspect lived in the Portuguese Algarve from 1995 to 2007, and also stayed in a house in Praia de Luz, the resort from which McCann had disappeared, according to the Prosecutor’s Office in Braunschweig.
The British capital London police revealed on Wednesday details of two cars linked to the suspect almost at the time of the disappearance, and called on the public to move forward with any information about them.
“The first car is a distinctive VW T3 Westfalia. It is a model from the early 1980s, with two-tone markers, a white upper body and a yellow skirt. It has a Portuguese registration plate,” the UK statement said.
“The suspect was able to access this truck from at least April 2007 until sometime after May 2007. It was used in and around the Praia da Luz region.”
“The second car is a British Jaguar XJR 6 of 1993 and a German number plate registered in Germany,” the statement added. “It is believed that this car was in Praia da Luz and the surrounding areas in 2006 and 2007. The car was originally registered in the name of the suspect. On May 4, 2007, one day after Madeleine’s disappearance, the car was re-registered to someone else in Germany.”
In response to a question about whether this might be another example of an apparent breakthrough that does not reach anything, Mitchell accepted that there were “countless quotes, common statements, rumors, and assumptions” that “not all of them came unfortunately”. “But as I said, in my memory of being involved in the case, the police were absolutely not very specific about anyone as they were in this appeal.”
Mitchell added that Kate and Jerry McCann were not conducting interviews because they wanted to remain focused on a police request to obtain information about phone numbers and cars used by this new suspect.
Metropolitan police began reviewing McCann’s disappearance in 2011, in a large-scale investigation known as Operation Grange that cost at least 11.75 million pounds ($ 14.7) as of June 2019.
“After the 10-year anniversary, the meteorological committee received information about a German man who was known to have been in and around Praia da Luz. We are working with colleagues in Germany and Portugal and this man is suspected of Madeleine’s disappearance.” Chief investigator Mark Cranwell said in a statement on Wednesday.
The UK authorities offer a £ 20,000 reward (approximately $ 25,000) for information that leads to the conviction of the officials.
Fred Plettin, from CNN in Berlin, Mia Alberti in Lisbon, Zamira Rahim, Max Ramsay, Milena Veselinovich and Issa Soares in London contributed to this report.