A senior Portuguese law enforcement official accused the U.K.’s Metropolitan Police of failing to identify Christian Bruckner in 2012 as a suspect in the case of Madeleine McCann, who disappeared while on vacation with her parents in Portugal at the age of three.
While speaking with Lusa, a Portuguese news agency, Deputy Director of the Policia Judiciaria Carlos Farinha defended his officers from criticism and deflected blame onto the British authorities involved in the case.
He specifically cited the Metropolitan Police and said they’ve known about Bruckner’s existence for the last eight years.
“If the Policia Judiciaria is being accused of not prioritizing Brückner, the same can be said of the Metropolitan Police, because since at least 2012, they have had knowledge of him,” he said.
Farinha added: “If the suspicions about that person were so evident, he would have been the subject of intelligence requests by the English, which have always been authorized in Portugal, but they never asked.”
British, Portuguese and German authorities have been criticized for their mishandling of the case after it was confirmed that Bruckner had not been treated as a suspect until 2017, according to The Telegraph.
Bruckner is reportedly in prison serving a seven-year sentence for raping a 72-year-old tourist in 2005. When he was a teenager in 1994, he was convicted of sexually abusing a child but fled to Portugal.
Bruckner was not charged for the rape until August 2019, more than 14 years after the crime had occurred, The Guardian reported. He was sentenced in December of that year. The victim is now 86.
News broke Thursday that Scotland Yard was looking into a 43-year-old German man possibly tied to the McCann case. At the time, authorities said the suspect was believed to have traveled around Portugal in a camper van, according to the BBC.
McCann was the subject of a Netflix Documentary last year that featured experts and key figures from the case, according to The Sun.
Jim Gamble, the top child protection cop during the first McCann investigation, said: “I absolutely believe that in my lifetime we will find out what has happened to Madeleine McCann. There’s huge hope to be had with the advances in technology. Year on year DNA is getting better. Year on year other techniques, including facial recognition, are getting better.”