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CRIME

What we know so far about German suspect in ‘Maddie’ case

The man suspected by German authorities of murdering missing British girl Madeleine McCann has a history of child sex abuse and a conviction for raping a 72-year-old American woman in Portugal in 2005, according to court documents.

What we know so far about German suspect in 'Maddie' case
A police handout shows the type of camper van they believe belonged to the suspect. Photo: DPA

German police have revealed they are investigating a 43-year-old German with a long criminal past over the disappearance of three-year-old “Maddie” from the Portuguese holiday resort of Praia da Luz in 2007.

The suspect, named as Christian B. by German media, is currently in prison in the northern city of Kiel serving a sentence for drug trafficking, DPA news agency reported on Thursday.

He has completed almost two thirds of his sentence and is therefore close to a decision on a possible release on probation, according to documents from Germany's Federal Court of Justice (BGH) seen by AFP.

READ ALSO: German prosecutors assume Madeleine McCann is dead as they investigate new suspect

However, that decision depends on the outcome of another case against him concerning the rape of a 72-year-old American tourist in 2005 — in the same seaside village of Praia da Luz.

Christian B. allegedly broke into her house, tied her up and gagged her, beat her for about 15 minutes with a metal object, then raped her and finally forced her to hand over cash.

A court in Braunschweig sentenced him to seven years in prison last December. However, this sentence has not yet been finalised pending a dispute about extradition technicalities.

Madeleine disappeared from her family's holiday apartment on May 3, 2007, a few days before her fourth birthday, as her parents dined with friends at a nearby tapas bar.

Her disappearance sparked one of the biggest searches of its kind in recent years.

Despite a wide range of suspects and theories about what happened, no one has ever been convicted over her kidnapping and no trace of her has been found.

'Angry'

Hans Christian Wolters, a spokesman for Brunswick prosecutor's office, said Thursday that the German suspect was being investigated “on suspicion of murder”.

“We assume the girl is dead,” he said, describing the suspect as “a sex offender with several previous convictions who has been sentenced for sexual abuse of children, among other things”.

According to police, the suspect, a white man with short blond hair, lived in the Algarve region of Portugal between 1995 and 2007.

He made a living doing odd jobs in the area where Madeleine was taken, and also burgled hotel rooms and holiday flats.

Police believe he was living in a white Westfalia camper van with yellow skirting at the time of the kidnapping and they are keen for witnesses who remember seeing the vehicle back then to come forward.

READ ALSO: German prisoner identified in disappearance of British girl Madeleine McCann

Police are not ruling out that Christian B. may have broken into the McCanns' flat for a robbery before spontaneously taking the girl.

Speaking to Sky News, a former neighbour in Portugal said Christian B. was “always a bit angry, driving fast up and down the lane, and then one day, around 2006, he just disappeared without a word”.

According to a report in Der Spiegel magazine, Christian B. was first convicted of sexually abusing children when he was still a teenager.

His criminal record contains a total of 17 entries, the report said, including driving without a license, bodily injury, theft and drunk driving.

He went on trial for the first time in Bavaria in 1994 for “abusing a child” and “performing sexual acts in front of a child”, Spiegel said.

Then 17 years old, Christian B. received a juvenile sentence of two years, which he only partly served.

In 2016, the district court of Braunschweig sentenced him to one year and three months in prison for “creating and possessing child pornographic material”, according to Spiegel.

By Femke Colborne

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GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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