Police comb Portuguese dam for third day in Madeleine McCann case

26 May 2023 12:08pm
Portuguese Judicial Police criminal investigation unit members work in the Arade dam area, in Silves on May 25, 2023, on the third day of new search operations amid the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine (or Maddie) McCann. - (Photo by FILIPE AMORIM / AFP)
Portuguese Judicial Police criminal investigation unit members work in the Arade dam area, in Silves on May 25, 2023, on the third day of new search operations amid the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine (or Maddie) McCann. - (Photo by FILIPE AMORIM / AFP)
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SILVES, Portugal - Police from Portugal, Germany and Britain on Thursday resumed their search at a reservoir in southern Portugal, hoping to shed light on the 2007 disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann.

The child was three years old when she went missing from her family's holiday apartment in the Algarve 16 years ago, while her parents were dining at a nearby tapas bar.

Despite an international manhunt, no trace of the child has been found and no-one has been charged over her disappearance.

Portuguese media said Thursday's search of the banks of the Arade dam could be the last in the three-day operation, which has involved around 50 police officers and Portuguese firefighters.

On Wednesday, investigators had used a brushcutter on caterpillar tracks to raze bushes and trees from the dry banks of the reservoir, some 50 kilometres (30 miles) from where Maddie went missing in the tourist resort of Praia da Luz.

Local media said they had taken samples of earth and collected shreds of cloth from the cordoned-off area but had not found anything connected to the case.

Police had combed the site, in the Silves area, in 2008 but divers had found only animal remains, the media said.

The search resumed this week at the request of German authorities, who have said since 2020 that they are convinced the British girl is dead.

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They suspect the involvement of a German multiple sex offender, who is in prison in Germany for a rape in Portugal.

German judicial authorities say the man in question is Christian Brueckner, considered the chief suspect in the Maddie case after spending several years living in the Algarve.

According to Portuguese magazine Expresso, testimony from a "credible" informer found by German investigators had prompted the new searches near the Arade reservoir.

Newspaper Correio da Manha said police were searching for a pink blanket or the pyjamas Maddie was wearing the night she disappeared on May 3, 2007, just before her fourth birthday.

They have used tracker dogs, probes and a drone to comb the area, which local media said Brueckner visited regularly. - AFP