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Madeleine McCann suspect denies involvement in disappearance in his first public comment on the case


Madeleine McCann went missing in Portugal

Madeleine McCann went missing in Portugal

Madeleine McCann went missing in Portugal

The Madeleine McCann suspect has denied involvement in her disappearance in his first public comment on the case.

The statement came as it emerged he could walk free from prison in a month if the European Court of Justice (ECJ) overturns his conviction for raping an American pensioner.

Christian Bruckner emerged as a prime suspect two weeks ago after German prosecutors said they had launched a murder investigation and could place him in Praia de Luz, Portugal, on the day Madeleine disappeared.

Lawyers defending Bruckner yesterday said their client "denies any involvement" in the case.

Bruckner's first comment came as Madeleine's parents denied they had received a letter from German prosecutors stating their daughter was dead.

Bruckner, who is in prison for a separate drugs offence and is eligible for parole, was convicted last year of raping a 72-year-old woman in Praia de Luz in 2005 and jailed for seven years. But his conviction is the subject of an ECJ appeal due to an administrative error by German police after they extradited him on the wrong charge. The court's decision is expected on July 16.

It could result in the ECJ ordering a retrial or quashing the conviction, meaning Bruckner would be eligible for immediate release.

The authorities fear it would enable him to flee abroad to a country that does not have an extradition agreement with Germany.

Yesterday, further details emerged in the German media about his past. According to an investigation by 'Der Spiegel', police recovered "countless children's items, most of them small swimsuits" when they searched Bruckner's US-style camper van in May 2016.

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Officers viewed more than 8,000 photos and videos on six USB sticks and two memory cards showing the abuse of young children and around 100 of the files were pictures of Bruckner partly naked or in black stockings performing a sex act, the newspaper reported.

Yesterday, a row erupted after a German prosecutor said he had written to the McCanns to apologise for not being more transparent about the investigation.

He added: "We have really considered the fact that it is going to be very hard for the family when we tell them that we assume Madeleine is dead. But we can't say why she is dead."

Kate and Gerry McCann issued a statement, saying: "The widely reported news that we have received a letter . . . that states there is evidence or proof that Madeleine is dead is FALSE."

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