German Police Confirm Madeleine McCann Is 'Assumed Dead' And Are Treating It As Murder Case
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Madeleine McCann is now being assumed dead, German prosecutors have said.
During a press conference on Thursday 4th June, the German Public Prosecuting authorities confirmed that, after questioning a new key suspect, they were now considering McCann's case a murder investigation.
"The public prosecution office is investigating against a 43-year-old German on suspicion of murder," they said. "We assume that the girl is dead."
On their prime suspect, who they have announced is named Christian B, they added: "It is a sexual offender that has been convicted several time also for sexual abuse against children. He's currently in prison for a different matter."
Christian is understood to be a German national, who was reportedly in the area where Maddie was last seen 13 years ago, before her disappearance.
Detectives investigating the disappearance of Maddie established the latest suspect lived on and off in the Algarve, Portugal, between 1995 and 2007.
He is connected to the area of Praia da Luz and surrounding regions, and also spent some short spells in Germany, the Met police confirmed in a briefing today.
The suspect has been described as a white man who is about 6ft tall. At the time of the incident, he is believed to have had a slim build and short blond hair.
Germany's federal criminal police office - who are working with the MET and Portuguese forces on the case - added that he had two previous convictions for "sexual contact with girls".
The tragic news comes after Maddie's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, described the new lead as "potentially very significant".
"Kate and Gerry do feel it's potentially very significant. They have welcomed the appeal; they're not doing any interviews themselves about it because they wish the focus to remain on the police request rather than they themselves," their spokesperson said.
The German police's stance varies from statements previously given by the Met.
In a statement this morning, they that the case remains a "missing persons" investigation because there is not "definitive evidence" indicating whether Madeleine is alive or not.
Both UK and German forces, alongside the Portuguese police, are now asking for the public to help their investigation.
In a bid to help further their chances of discovering what happened to Maddie, they are now calling for information on a number of vehicles, which they state could be vital to the investigation.
The first is a distinctive VW T3 Westfalia camper van. It is an early 1980s model, with two tone markings, a white upper body and a yellow skirting, with a Portuguese registration plate.
They are appealing for anyone who may have seen it in or around Praia da Luz on 3 May, the night Madeleine went missing, the days before, or weeks following her disappearance.
The second vehicle is a 1993 British Jaguar, model XJR 6, with a German number plate and registered in Germany.
This car is believed to have been in the Praia da Luz and surrounding areas in 2006 and 2007 and was originally registered in the suspect's name.
On 4 May 2007, the day after Madeleine's disappearance, the car was re-registered to someone else in Germany, detectives said.
To re-register the car in Germany you do not have to have the car in the country or region. Police believe the car was still in Portugal in the spring and summer of 2007.
The Met says anyone who saw these cars together or individually at this time should come forward. Both these vehicles are now being held by the German authorities.