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CRIME

‘Concrete evidence’ that Madeleine McCann is dead, says German prosecutor

Authorities in Germany have "concrete evidence" that missing British girl Madeleine McCann is dead, Brunswick prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters told AFP Wednesday.

'Concrete evidence' that Madeleine McCann is dead, says German prosecutor
The parents of Madeleine McCann hold up a photo of their daughter in London in 2012. Photo: DPA

“It is concrete evidence, facts that we have, not mere indications,” Wolters said, adding that he was unable to disclose exact information.

“We have no forensic evidence of Madeleine's death, such as a corpse,” he added.

Police raised hopes in early June that the mystery over the disappearance of three-year-old “Maddie” could finally be solved when they revealed they are investigating a 43-year-old over her disappearance from the Portuguese holiday resort of Praia da Luz in 2007.

The suspect, who was not named by police but identified as Christian B. by German media, has a history of previous sex offences including child sex offences and rape.

READ ALSO: What we know so far about German suspect in 'Maddie' case

Prosecutors had said they were working on the assumption that Madeleine is dead, though authorities in Britain had continued to treat her disappearance as a missing persons case.

Letter sent

Wolters said German authorities have written to Madeleine's family, but declined to give details of the content of the letter. He also confirmed that Christian B. has applied to be released early on probation from prison in Kiel, where he has currently served two thirds of a sentence for drug trafficking.

However, Wolters said the suspect will not be freed from custody as there is a case pending against him over the rape of an elderly woman in Portugal.

A court in Brunswick had sentenced Christian B. to seven years in prison last December for the assault against the 72-year-old American tourist in 2005 — in the same seaside village of Praia da Luz where Maddie went missing.

But the sentence has not yet been finalised pending extradition technicalities.

During the trial for that case, two witnesses said they had found a gun, video cameras and several tapes at Christian B.'s home in Portugal, according to a report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper citing court documents.

One of them later watched some of the footage and saw a man raping an elderly woman tied to a bed, the report said.

Cold cases

Madeleine went missing 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.

According to police, Christian B. 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.

Christian B. has not been called in for questioning and his lawyers say he has so far refused to speak about the case.

The latest development in Maddie's case has prompted European investigators to reopen several cold cases of missing children.

In Germany, prosecutors are combing through the files to see if the suspect had anything to do with the disappearance of a five-year-old girl named Inga from the town of Schoenebeck in Saxony-Anhalt in 2015.

Authorities in Belgium said they have reopened a probe into the 1996 murder of a German teenager, Carola Titze, 16, in the resort town of De Haan on the Belgian coast.

And in Portugal, the stepfather of missing eight-year-old girl, Joana Cipriano, has asked authorities to explore possible links.

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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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