Madeleine McCann’s parents have welcomed the news a German man has been made a formal suspect in her disappearance as they say they still have hope she is alive.
Kate and Gerry, who is from Glasgow, said: “Even though the possibility may be slim, we have not given up hope that Madeleine is still alive and we will be reunited with her.”
Christian Brueckner, 44, was identified as a murder suspect by German prosecutors in June 2020, but he has not been charged since then.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Portuguese prosecutors said that a person had been made an “arguido” – which translates as “named suspect” or “formal suspect”.
The full statement from Madeleine’s parents, signed “Kate & Gerry” said: “We welcome the news that the Portuguese authorities have declared a German man an ‘arguido’ in relation to the disappearance of our beloved daughter Madeleine.
“This reflects progress in the investigation, being conducted by the Portuguese, German and British authorities. We are kept informed of developments by the Metropolitan Police.
“It is important to note the ‘arguido’ has not yet been charged with any specific crime related to Madeleine’s disappearance.
“Even though the possibility may be slim, we have not given up hope that Madeleine is still alive and we will be reunited with her.”
Investigators believe the convicted sex offender killed three-year-old Madeleine after abducting her from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in May 2007.
The statement does not name Brueckner, but says the person was made an “arguido” by German authorities at the request of Portugal’s public prosecution service.
It said the investigation has been carried out with the co-operation of the English and German authorities.
The move by Portuguese authorities could allow Brueckner, who is in prison in Germany, to be transferred to the Algarve for formal questioning.
Brueckner denies any involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance.
Referred to as Christian B in Germany due to the country’s strict privacy laws, Brueckner was found guilty in 2019 of the 2005 rape of a 72-year-old American woman in Praia da Luz.
He was sentenced to seven years in jail at a court in Brunswick, Lower Saxony.
A federal court in Karlsruhe, a city in south-west Germany, rejected an appeal against the conviction in November 2020.
In Portuguese law, an arguido status can be a preliminary move ahead of an arrest being made or charges brought.
The Metropolitan Police continue to treat Madeleine’s disappearance as a missing persons inquiry.