Court sides against Madeleine McCann suspect in rape appeal

Kate Ng
·2-min read
Handout picture taken in 2018 shows German Christian Brueckner when he was arrested for drug trafficking in Italy: Italian Carabinieri
Handout picture taken in 2018 shows German Christian Brueckner when he was arrested for drug trafficking in Italy: Italian Carabinieri

A European court has sided against a man suspected of murdering Madeleine McCann in his appeal to overturn a separate rape conviction.

It comes after the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) was told by an advisor on Thursday that Germany did not follow the correct procedures when extraditing the suspect, Christian Brueckner, from Italy.

Brueckner was extradited to Germany from Italy in 2018 under an arrest warrant that cited a drugs conviction but was subsequently convicted and sentenced for the 2005 rape of a 72-year-old American woman in Portugal.

His lawyer, Friedrich Fulscher, challenged the validity of the arrest warrant as it did not cite the 2005 rape charge. and argued it was a breach of international law to put him on trial for the rape.

A German court subsequently sought guidance from the CJEU, based in Luxembourg. CJEU Advocate General Michal Bobek said in a non-binding opinion that German authorities required consent from Italian authorities for the rape charge so proceedings could be carried out lawfully.

As Italy had agreed the suspect could be tried for rape and extortion in Germany, the CJEU sided against Brueckner. A final decision by CJEU judges will arrive at a later date.

Brueckner, 43, is a suspect in the killing of Madeleine in 2007.

German prosecutor Julia Meter told the PA news agency: “The advocate general shares our opinion.

“We are pleased and wait for the decision of the court the next few weeks.”

Brueckner remains in prison in Kiel, north of Germany, where he has already served two-thirds of his sentence for drug trafficking. He had hoped to be released immediately, but will remain in custody until 2027 if his appeal against the rape conviction fails.

German prosecutors Hans Christian Wolters, leading the Madeleine investigation, previously said of Brueckner’s appeal: “Ultimately we cannot influence the decision because it is not related to the McCann investigation.

“This does not affect our investigation, but of course we would like to know where our suspect is. As long as he is in custody, we know this.”

Additional reporting by agencies