The Portuguese police excluded pedophile Christian Brueckner as a suspect of violent rape of an Irish woman in the Algarve more than 15 years ago.
The 43-year-old Brueckner is suspected of kidnapping and murdering Madeleine McCann in Praia da Luz about three years after Hazel Behan’s attack in 2004.
Ms. Behan told her this week how she became physically ill when she read unsettling details about how Masked Brueckner raped and hit a 72-year-old American in 2005 in Praia da Luz.
She said this incident resembled the attack on her when a masked and machete-invading intruder tied her up and gagged her, then filmed how she raped and beaten her for up to five hours before he fled.
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Her attacker was never caught and she believes the Portuguese police investigation has been flawed because officials have not carried out a thorough investigation and search.
She believes that if the Portuguese police had thoroughly investigated her case, she might have caught the attacker.
When Brueckner emerged as the main suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance, detectives took another look at the attack on Ms. Behan to find out if he was the attacker, the Portuguese newspaper Jornal de Noticas reported.
However, they concluded that he was not responsible and excluded him as a suspect, the report added.
The newspaper reported: “Jornal de Noticias learned that the idea that it was Brueckner was taken into account when he became suspicious of the Maddie case.
“Unsolved crimes like Hazel’s have been re-investigated and investigators have concluded that he was not the author.”
The police re-examined a number of unsolved crimes to determine whether Brueckner could be responsible, the newspaper said.
Ms. Behan spoke to the British police and asked Portuguese officials to investigate her case after hearing about Brueckner last week.
She told how she was attacked in her apartment in Praia da Rocha, about 15 miles from where Madeleine had disappeared, when she was a 20-year-old vacation agent in the Algarve.
She waived her right to anonymity and said so Guardian that her rapist was a man who spoke English with a German accent and was about 6 feet 1 inches tall.
The intruder set up a video camera to film the attack and told her not to scream.
He dragged her and tied her to the countertop of a breakfast bar, took out a bag of whips and chains, cut off her clothes, and choked them with a cloth.
Then he beat and raped her in what appeared to be a carefully planned attack.
Ms. Behan said, “I went to bed around 1 am and was woken up by someone who called my name. I turned to my back and there was a masked man in pantyhose and something that looked like a leotard, a machete about 30 cm long in my hand. “
She added: “He kept cleaning his hands and changing the condoms repeatedly. He wanted me to do a certain action on him that I just couldn’t do, I choked.
“He got angry and ordered me into the bathroom and he picked up the machete. I was convinced that he would kill me and I threatened to scream and said I would not go in there. “
Ms. Behan’s hands were still tied behind her back when her attacker bent her over a small bench and put a sheet over her head.
She feared she would be killed, but then he stepped out the door, put his shoes back on, and ran away.
Through the holes in his mask, she said she could see his blonde eyebrows and blue eyes.
On top of his right thigh was a distinctive sign that was either a train in her pantyhose, a tattoo, or a birthmark, she added.
German media have described the 43-year-old Brueckner with birthmarks on the right thigh.
Former neighbors in Praia da Luz said he moved abruptly out of his dilapidated home in 2006, leaving behind a collection of wigs, costumes, and exotic clothing.
Ms. Behan was deeply traumatized and told how she “vomited” when she read about the attack on the American because it put her back in the night she was raped.
The Irish woman said that she had been “humiliated” by the police, who took her back to her room and asked her to undress and stand in a “star-like” position while photographing her.
She was then taken to a hospital for a physical exam, but doesn’t know if forensic evidence was collected.
Ms. Behan believes the police have not carried out a thorough investigation or search since no attempt was made to examine her wounds for evidence and a few days later her mother discovered one of her fingernails in her room.
She said that she had been told to remain silent about the attack so that the resort would not become poorly known.
She suspects that she was being persecuted and that the suspect had been in her room in the weeks before the rape because there was no money and property had been moved.
Ms. Behan, who lives in Ireland with her husband and two children, had lost hope that her attacker would be brought to justice until she found out about the new suspect’s earlier crimes in the McCann case.
When she explained to Met Police, she was told that they were taking their case seriously and would contact the Portuguese police.
She said the Met told her that other people independently contacted her about the attack.
The American pensioner, who was attacked in a luxury villa in Praia da Luz, the same resort where Maddie would go about 18 months later, told the Portuguese police that an intruder grabbed her and dragged her to a bedroom where she was tied up, raped and raped were tortured.
Brueckner filmed the 2005 attack and was detained for 14 years until a friend provided information and DNA evidence linked him to the crime.
The friend told the police that he broke into Brücker’s house near Praia da Luz in 2006 when the suspect was detained for alleged theft of diesel fuel.
During the break-in, the friend found a video camera and footage that showed separate attacks on an “older” woman and a “younger” woman.
But the friend was silent for years before going to the police with the information and Brueckner’s name.
Hair recovered from the woman’s bed matched Brücker’s DNA, his trial said.
Brueckner lived about half a mile from the apartment where he raped the US woman.
He was detained for seven years last December and is currently in prison in Kiel, northern Germany.
Meanwhile, prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters, who heads the German investigation into Brückner, said Madeleine may have been ill-treated and killed shortly after her kidnapping.
He revealed the information when he again asked to tip for fear that the prime suspect could be released from prison.
Brueckner is suspected of kidnapping and murdering the young person from her family’s apartment in Praia da Luz on the night of May 3, 2007.
German prosecutors have said they believe Madeleine is dead and knows how she was killed, but she lacks the “crucial evidence” of her body and is unwilling to accuse the 43-year-old suspect.
Mr. Wolters said the times: “My private opinion is that he killed the girl relatively quickly, possibly abused and then killed her.
“We believe that our suspect has committed other crimes, particularly sexual crimes, in Portugal, but possibly also elsewhere, such as in Germany.”
Mr. Wolters declined to say whether there is any suspicion that Brueckner filmed the abuse of Madeleine.
The prosecutor said Brückner could be released today if a court in Kiel, northern Germany, gave him parole for serving two thirds of his sentence.
Brueckner is serving 21 months in a Kiel prison for drug trafficking and seven years for raping the American woman. He appeals against the latter judgment, which was issued by a court in Braunschweig, where he once lived.
The German authorities fear that he will be released from prison before they have enough evidence to indict him in the McCann case, and then leave the country.
Mr. Wolters added: “The sooner we get evidence, the better we can avoid the risk that he will ever be released.
“If we don’t find anything new against him, it could be that he will be released in seven years at the latest and leave Germany in a country that doesn’t deliver.”
Police across Europe are also investigating whether he has been involved in unsolved disappearances, child murders, or rape of women.
Brueckner was with at least two British women when he lived in the Algarve, and one of the ex-girlfriends claims that she had a chilling conversation with him the evening before Madeleine was kidnapped Sun reported.
The woman claims that the 30-year-old Brueckner said to her during her appointment: “I have a job to do in Praia da Luz tomorrow. It’s a terrible job, but I have to do it and it will change my life. You won’t see me for a while. “
It is said that Brueckner disappeared from the Algarve at the same time as Madeleine and reappeared three years later in a bar in Lagos, about ten kilometers from Praia da Luz.
In 2010, a British woman who dated him suggested he looked like some of the McCann suspects’ e-fits and jokingly asked if he had kidnapped the girl.
A friend of both women said to the sun, “He deleted the question and shrugged. Then he added,” Just don’t go there. “
The friend said that Brücker’s cryptic comments about a “terrible job” were not taken seriously by his girlfriend on the night of May 2, 2007, because she didn’t think he was able to do anything terrible.
The friend added, “But we can’t help but feel guilty and think we should have brought all the clues together and gone to the police years ago.”
Brueckner beat up the two British women – a mother of two who now lives in Berkshire – when he was with them, the friend claims.
Both live in fear of Brückner and want to make sure that he remains locked up, said the friend.
Neither woman is suspicious, and there is no evidence that Brueckner may have been involved in Madeleine’s disappearance.
Maddie from Rothley, Leicestershire, was only a few days away from her fourth birthday when she disappeared from her family’s vacation rental in the Ocean Club complex in Praia da Luz.
Her parents had left her and her 18-month-old siblings Sean and Amelie alone while dining with friends in a nearby tapas restaurant.