A German suspect was not working alone when he allegedly kidnapped Madeleine McCann, a Portuguese investigative TV show claims.
Detectives suspect drifter Christian Brueckner, 43, had help the night that the British girl vanished from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in the Algarve, the Sexta As 9 programme alleges.
New allegations are set to be revealed during an episode that will air on Friday night.
It comes after a exclusive report by the Mirror earlier this week revealed that Maddie detectives are searching for a second German drifter who lived in the Algarve when she vanished on May 3, 2007, just days before her fourth birthday. Her body has never been found.
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Detectives believe the drifter is a former friend of Bruecker’s and lived in a camper van near a remote reservoir nine miles from Praia da Luz, and it is understood that he is being treated as a witness, not a suspect, the report added.
German prosecutors have said Brueckner is the prime suspect in the McCann case and they suspect that she was murdered. He has not been charged.
At least one of his former friends has been quizzed by German police in Portugal.
Brueckner, then 30, was living near Praia da Luz at the time and was travelling around the Algarve in a VW camper van, investigators have said.
It has long been suspected that more than one person was involved in Maddie’s disappearance 13 years ago. It is a theory considered by her parents Kate and Gerry McCann.
The couple had left Madeleine and her 18-month-old twin siblings, Sean and Amelie, sleeping alone in the flat while they had dinner with friends at a poolside tapas restaurant nearby.
Earlier this year, reports in Portugal suggested an employee at the Ocean Club holiday complex watched the McCanns and passed information to Brueckner so he could break into their ground floor apartment.
An receptionist reportedly noted the couple’s block dinner reservation in a staff register that was available for all to see.
A different worker tipped off Brueckner that the McCanns and their friends ate dinner at the same restaurant each night, the newspaper Correio de Manha reported.
The report claimed police had identified the worker who tipped off Brueckner, and the employee had the paedophile’s mobile number in his own phone.
German prosecutors allege that he was on a 30-minute phone call outside the apartment building around the time Madeleine disappeared.
He had allegedly bragged to friends that he was “making thousands” from burgling holiday flats and hotel rooms in the Algarve.
Mrs McCann explored the theory in her book, Madeleine.
She wrote: “It wasn’t until a year later, when I was combing through the Portuguese files, that I discovered that the note requesting our block booking was written in a staff message book, which sat on a desk at the pool reception for most of the day.
“To my horror I saw that, no doubt in all innocence and to explain why she was bending the rules a bit, the receptionist had written the reason for our request… we wanted to eat close to our apartments as we were leaving our young children alone there and checking on them intermittently.”
In a preview of Friday night’s Sexta As 9 programme, presenter Sandra Felgueiras said: “German detectives have confirmed the suspicion that Christian Brueckner had an accomplice.”
Lead prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters tells the programme that he has substantive evidence that Madeleine is dead.
Brueckner’s lawyer Friedrich Fuelcher also appears on the show, claiming his client is innocent.
Brueckner, who has been convicted of sexually abusing girls in Germany, has denied any involvement in Maddie’s disappearance, his lawyer has said.
The paedophile is in a prison in Kiel, northern Germany, for drug trafficking and raping a 72-year-old American woman in the Algarve.
The rape occurred about 18 months before three-year-old Madeleine, from Rothley, Leicestershire, vanished.
Brueckner was jailed for seven years for the attack on the American woman and 21 months for drug trafficking.