Tuesday, 13 October 2020

The Case of Madeleine McCann (Christian Brueckner Update)

There are some things I want to clarify in the recent developments with this case. I also want to dispel the usual misconceptions and people leaping to conclusions or indulging in conspiracy theories.

I get a little miffed when journalists I spoke to or corresponded with at the time, many years ago, play dumb now in their roles on current news pieces. They all know who Christian Brueckner is and was, including Martin Brunt of Sky News and several other BBC and independent journalists from Ireland and England. Brunt should. Brueckner's name, along with Robert Murat, was regularly discussed in exchanges with him online that his own bosses quickly deleted for legal reasons. It was actually Sky News themselves who suggested to Portuguese police that Murat should be considered suspicious when as a local British ex-pat Murat offered himself as an interpreter to news crews.

But that was part of the problem at the time - May 2007 - news media began not just to see themselves as reporting a crime, but on-the-ground sleuths as well.

Sky News got to create the their news for several weeks and be the news, and later paid dearly out of court along with many other news agencies. That's always the problem when your news agency becomes the news itself. It rarely works out well.

Sometimes it does pay off. Their coverage of the abduction of April Sue-Lyn Jones in Wales, in May 2013, did close down the net on Mark Bridger. With news helicopters on the morning after, Bridger simply had no where to go under the spotlight. The difference - police knew within an hour of her abduction who the prime suspect was. We may not have watching on TV as viewers, but Sky News and the police did.

In many ways, Sky News tried to apply their Soham Murders of Holly and Marie Wells (2002) approach to the McCann case in Portugal in 2007. Bucket 24 hour coverage and let's inspire a new era of armchair sleuths at home, and just run on that for viewership.

It's a silly Cluedo game that would lead to million-pound subsequent lawsuits and a new-found adoring audience who sit at home most of the day watching Sky News and only remain interested in the unfolding news and reality show if the culprit can be caught, tried and executed in about the timespan you watch a series of Normal People on Netflix over a weekend. Otherwise, switch to the Jeremy Kyle Show, because they have the lie detector test at the end. And we can all sleep soundly in our beds knowing the world is a better place because our instinct for immediate answers is satisfied. Folk don't like long mysteries, particularly if they are close to home or spike insecure feelings that question parenthood or social responsibility.


For a further decade the Portuguese and British investigations huffed and puffed. A judicial, political and almost colonial tug-of-war. An almost theatrical - the parents did it/no, it was an abduction - played out. Comical, with lead investigators, private eyes, personal family spokespersons, books, documentaries, court cases, etc. It was sad. Very sad. Frankly... it was very clear both Portuguese and British officials were more interested in perception and reputation than any outcome despite what was said publicly. This was a childish play on 'our army is better than your army'. And worse... 'we know more than you do.'

Truth be told... neither Portuguese or British investigation teams had much of a clue what they were doing. Their own forces and collective media circuses had already supplanted themselves into the case and story.

Meanwhile, and over the years, European police forces were assisting, mostly chasing down sightings and reports of children looking like Madeleine McCann in more places than a Thomas Cook Brochure could offer the average British holiday maker. That was the level of cooperation between police in the UK and Interpol.

No one was interested in taking the other forces' data seriously, and the leads quickly ran dry.

Around 2013, Belgian, Dutch and German police were sharing data on cases of child abduction and murder. Over the next two to three years, more and more DNA, social media data gathering from previous cases, and a better understanding of profiling on the continent of Europe was loaded to provide better database returns on open cases.

Boom... German and Dutch police began to see correlations with cases and wanted to reopen older cases from the 2000s. Some of those cases are too in-depth to go into here due to time in one post for legal reasons. (Google Inga Gehricke and several other missing children in the Dutch/German/Belgian regions). German and Dutch police saw a common thread in persons of interest with travel to Portugal. In 2017, German police asked, covertly, one of their broadcasters to invite the McCanns to travel to Germany so they could do an open "Crimewatch" style appeal on national TV. It worked.

Christian Brueckner's name repeatedly came up from his movements in Hanover and time in Portugal. It is not the role of European police forces to investigate cases in other countries unless they can provide a direct link with a crime in their country of sufficient concern.

British and Portuguese police showed limited interest in the German investigation of 2017. Instead, British police watered down their appeal and suggested they were interested in persons of interest in Portugal who were suspected of committing burglaries and would say little more than that.

What the British police wouldn't tell the public is what the German, Dutch and Belgian police were telling them. That Christian Brueckner was already identified as one of the released e-fits. Indeed, German police told the British police three of the identities released were already known to them and at least one of them was a drug and crime associate of Brueckner at the time he was in Portugal in 2007.

The German police learned a vast amount of information from the 2017 campaign. It revealed information about their own cases in Germany, Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands, and the Madeleine McCann case.

Earlier this month, the Germany authorities were forced to go public with a case that never happened in their country, but included a citizen of their country, but primarily *because* the British authorities had no interest in making the latest information available until forced to under EU laws.


(Some of the following was only released by British authorities when German authorities made it clear they were treating the case of Madeleine McCann as murder and were releasing the information regardless of the decision made in Britain - many UK media are continuing to suppress, including Sky News, what has been shared throughout media in Europe and beyond)

Official German and Dutch media (non-tabloid) are actually very strict about what they can release. They have far stricter laws on criminal cases than the UK.

Christian Brueckner was known to all of us in 2007 and he came up on the radar to Portuguese police back then. He lived 1.2 km from the Praia da Luz apartment. He was a known drug dealer in the area and had convictions for burglary, assault and  exposure by his twenties and a constant transient between Portugal and Germany. Both police forces listed him but never interviewed him at the time.

His departure from Praia da Luz area surely should have highlighted him as someone to check and speak to. He de-registered his Jaguar car the following day and no one knows what happened his small camper van.

He travelled back to Germany several days later at the height of door-to-door investigations.

In 2005, he sexually assaulted an elderly woman in the area, beat her with a metal bar, and videotaped the whole episode. He wasn't convicted for it (under DNA evidence) until many years later.

He was convicted of several other assaults, drug and burglary related crimes.

In 2017, a former residence he rented had a rubbish bag buried with his dead dog and PC drives, memory chips and flash drives containing images of abuse child pornography, and his previous crimes.

In 2013, an online forum record his text exchanges of fantasies of child abduction, torture and murder.

His phone pings the Praia da Luz telecom tower close to the resort and he has a 30 minute phone call at the time of the abduction.

His German camper van is found to have childrens' swimming gear and clothing despite not sharing his van or home with children.

It is up to the German authorities to reveal what evidence (video/images) they have that link Brueckner to Madeleine McCann.

I do not believe the Germany authorities would have went out on a limb unless they believed they had categorical evidence the child was dead and the reason why.

They are not digging Brueckner's plot and former residences for the good of their health.

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