Madeleine McCann suspect won't be freed until 2026 after rape appeal dismissed

The German suspect in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance will remain behind bars until 2026 after losing his attempt to overturn a rape conviction.

Investigators believe 43-year-old Christian Brueckner murdered Madeleine, then three, after abducting her from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in May 2007.

Last year, he was found guilty of the 2005 rape of a 72-year-old American woman in the same Portuguese resort and sentenced to seven years in prison at a court in Brunswick, Lower Saxony.

A federal court in Karlsruhe, a city in southwestern Germany, dismissed Brueckner’s appeal against the conviction and upheld the verdict on Friday.

The ruling comes weeks before German citizen Brueckner, who is also serving a prison sentence for drug trafficking, could have been released.

German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters, who is leading the McCann investigation, said Brueckner’s one year and seven months already spent in prison will count towards the seven-year sentence.

“That is why he should remain in custody until the spring of 2026,” he told the PA news agency.

“We are pleased that the verdict is being upheld as it shows that Brunswick’s judiciary has worked objectively and carefully.”

Madeleine McCann suspect won't be freed until 2026 after rape appeal dismissed

Earlier this week, Brueckner was hospitalized after sustaining two broken ribs in a court incident before returning for a hearing the same day, authorities said.

Brueckner – named Christian B in Germany because of the country’s strict privacy laws – was identified as a murder suspect in Madeleine McCann’s investigation in June.

Mr. Wolters has previously said that detectives have “concrete evidence,” but not “forensic evidence,” that he murdered her, and prosecutors do not have enough evidence to charge him.

The Metropolitan Police is continuing its active investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance. Operation Grange is a missing persons investigation as there is no “definitive proof whether Madeleine is alive or dead”.

Brueckner lived in a campervan on the allotment

Brueckner’s rape appeal had previously been sent to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg to rule on a legal issue related to his extradition to Germany from Portugal and later Italy.

According to court documents, he was extradited from Portugal for sexual abuse of a minor in June 2017 and traveled on probation to the Netherlands and Italy after his release.

He was extradited to Germany from Italy in October 2018 on the basis of a drug trafficking warrant before being tried and convicted of rape and extortion last December.

Brueckner is being held in Kiel prison

The Court of Justice case concerned whether the German authorities needed Portugal’s consent to initiate rape proceedings due to the 2017 extradition.

Italy had agreed that Brueckner, called Christian B in the German media, could be tried for rape and extortion in Germany.

Judges of the CJEU ruled that only the permission of the Italian authorities was needed for the Germans to legally carry out their proceedings before the case was returned to the German court.