'Investigate Maddie McCann suspect over our girl's disappearance', family urges

The step-dad of another young girl who disappeared just five miles from the apartment where Madeleine McCann was last seen is pleading with police to look into suspect Christian Brueckner.

Eight-year-old Joana Cipriano was reported missing from the village of Figueira – about a 10 minute drive from Praia da Luz – in 2004.

The German prosecutor leading the inquiry into Madeleine’s disappearance has warned that authorities still do not have enough evidence to charge the main suspect – 43-year-old Christian Brueckner.

Hans Christian Wolters issued another appeal for information about Brueckner in the hope investigators can find the “knockout blow” they need to secure a conviction.

But now the step-dad Leandro Silva of another young girl who went missing, Joana, has called for investigators to look into the possibility Brueckner was involved in her disappearance.

'Investigate Maddie McCann suspect over our girl's disappearance', family urges

Although Joana’s body was never found, Leonor and her brother Joao Cipriano were convicted of her murder and both were jailed for 16 years.

Detectives claimed Joao killed Joana after she allegedly caught him having sex with her mum.

But the pair maintain that they are innocent.

Leonor claims Portuguese detectives tortured her into confessing to the crime.

'Investigate Maddie McCann suspect over our girl's disappearance', family urges

Joana’s step-dad Leandro Silva said: “The moment I saw police had a Madeleine suspect I thought about poor Joana and how he could be involved.”

Leandro, 54, said: “Her body has never been found and I know Leonor would never have hurt Joana. She was a good mum.

“I think the police handled the investigation so badly.

“That’s why I’d like a new police team to re-examine everything and see if this German man is involved.

Christian Brueckner allegedly told his girlfriend he had a "horrible job to do" the night before Madeleine vanished

“Brueckner also seems to have been heavily into drugs and I think there’s a good chance he could be implicated.

“He appears to have done some horrible things here and he obviously knew the Algarve well.”

Leandro continued: “There are still so many unanswered questions hanging over Joana’s ­disappearance and [Brueckner] could hold the key to solving them.”

He added: “For me there were a lot of similarities with the two ­disappearances.

“I dream of knowing what happened to poor Joana just like I know the McCanns do [about ­Madeleine]. If that means finding out they are dead so be it but I obviously wish for a different ending.

“What I do want is justice done for whoever’s taken her and I don’t feel as if I have all or any of the answers.”

Joana vanished after leaving a local cafe with milk and a tin of tuna she had just bought. Despite a national search she was never seen again.

At the time, Leonor confessed to killing her daughter but today says she is ­innocent.

She ­withdrew her confession the day after signing it, alleging she was beaten during a two-day ­interrogation.

Police say she was injured when she threw herself down a flight of stairs in an apparent suicide attempt after her arrest.

'Investigate Maddie McCann suspect over our girl's disappearance', family urges

Joao told police in 2004 he dismembered Joana’s body into pieces and fed it to pigs. But he now claims he is innocent and was “forced” to confess to the crime.

Leonor and Joao’s murder trial was the first in Portugal to be conducted without a body being discovered.

Leonor, now living in Evora in south-central Portugal, was released in February last year.

Joao gained his freedom a month later.