German police resume Maddie McCann allotment search

German police resumed searching an allotment Wednesday in connection with the disappearance of British girl Madeleine McCann, with hopes high of some light finally being shed on the years-long mystery.

German police resume Maddie McCann allotment search
An excavator at the scene in Seelze in the Hanover region. Photo: DPA

Officers used sniffer dogs and an excavator as they dug up the site in the city of Hanover, with several police vehicles parked around a cordoned-off area.

The sky above the plot was declared a no-fly zone, according to the local Hannoversche Allgemeine newspaper.

Police revealed in June that they were investigating a 43-year-old German man in connection with the case, saying they believe he had killed Maddie.

READ ALSO: Police search garden allotment in Hanover in 'Maddie' case

The suspect, who was not named by police but identified by German media as Christian B., reportedly lived in Hanover from 2007.

Police began digging at the plot in the early hours of Tuesday.

They have given no details of how the search is connected to the case or what they hope to find.

Germany's Bild newspaper reported that police had unearthed the foundations of an old building, along with a cellar, which an unnamed neighbour said was part of a building that had stood there long before the suspect B. took over the plot.

A sniffer dog was used to search a cavernous space beneath a concrete slab on the site, according to the Hannoversche Allgemeine.

Brunswick prosecutors and police declined to comment on the reported cellar when contacted by AFP.

Madeleine went missing from her family's holiday apartment in the Portuguese holiday resort of Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007, a few days before her fourth birthday, as her parents dined with friends at a nearby tapas bar.

Despite a huge international manhunt, no trace of her has been found, nor has anyone been charged over her disappearance.

German prosecutors said in June they had “concrete evidence” that Madeleine was dead, despite British police continuing to treat her disappearance as a missing persons case.

READ ALSO: German 'Maddie' suspect refuses to speak about case

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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.