May 23, 2023 | 1:46 p.m.
One of the most senior police officers involved in the Madeleine McCann case has said the search of a tank in Portugal could be the ‘best chance’ authorities have had in more than a decade to uncover what happened to the three-year-old girl.
German and Portuguese police investigating the suspect, Christian Brueckner, have begun searching the desolate site 45 minutes from Praia da Luz in Portugal, where Maddie disappeared in 2007.
Footage showed police tents being erected and officers scouring the shore at the Arade Dam near Silves.
The location is around 30 miles from the Ocean Club apartment where the three-year-old disappeared while on vacation with her parents Kate and Gerry.
Jim Gamble was a senior child protection official in the UK and led a major review into the McCann case.
Talk to The sunhe said he suspected German police had strong evidence against the prime suspect.
“They have to have something definitive.
“Having worked with the German police, it caught my attention when the prosecutor was so sure in his assessment that Madeleine was dead.
“They obviously keep what they have close to their chest and they don’t want to lose the evidence advantage,” said Mr Gamble, who is now CEO of INEQE Safeguarding Group.
“I think we’re looking for the best chance we’ve had in 16 years to find out what happened to Madeleine.”
It remains unclear why police are now searching the reservoir, but it appears police have located video of the sex offender at the lake. In addition, low water levels could facilitate any search.
Sources said Christian Brueckner used to call the dam his “little paradise”.
“German authorities, prosecutors and investigators are normally very conservative – so when they say something definitive you know they have the additional information,” Mr Gamble said.
“They were absolutely adamant about two things, one, they have the right suspect, and two, that Madeleine is dead.”
Footage from the distant lake showed police investigators with shovels and pickaxes leaning over an area next to the water where Christian Brueckner was believed to be spending time.
German police have insisted Christian Brueckner is the man they believe took McCann – but three years after announcing him as a suspect they have yet to press charges.
In 2008, a year after McCann disappeared, a search of the dam revealed a 30ft length of rope, strips of duct tape and small bones – but none of this was ever definitively linked to the affair.