German Police have said that a 43-year-old man, who has been convicted of multiple sexual offences, is a murder suspect in the case of Madeleine McCann, the British girl who went missing while on holiday with her parents in 2007.
The man is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence for another crime, said the Federal Police in the German city of Wiesbaden.
Madeleine, who was three years old at the time, vanished from her family’s holiday apartment in the Portuguese village of Praia da Luz in May 2007 while her parents were having dinner at a nearby restaurant.
The case made international headlines and, at one point, Portuguese Police made her parents the suspects.
The current suspect, who has served multiple jail sentences for child sex abuse, had lived in southern Portugal’s Algarve region between 1995 and 2007 at regular intervals, including in a house that was between Lagos and Praia da Luz for several years.
“Based on information available here, he had several odd jobs in the Lagos area during this time, including one in catering,’’ the Police said.
They added there was information suggesting he committed criminal offences, such as burglarising holiday flats, to earn his living.
German Federal Police in the state prosecutor’s office in Braunschweig is investigating the suspect, who has in the past, also been convicted of sexual offences involving children.
The Braunschweiger Zeitung newspaper said the suspect was convicted of rape last year.
After dropping the case in 2008, Portuguese officials had reopened the investigation in October 2013 due to the presence of new leads.
British Police, who have also been involved in the case, made a plea for more information on Wednesday in light of the new suspect.
They identified two vehicles – a Volkswagen camper van with a Portuguese licence plate and a British Jaguar with a German plate – as being connected with the man at the time of the incident.
They said the man in question had taken a phone call from a Portuguese number in the Praia da Luz region the night the girl disappeared.
The person, who made that call, was thought to be a key witness.
In a Metropolitan Police statement, Detective Chief Inspector, Mark Cranwell, who leads the Met investigation, said that “while this male is a suspect, we retain an open mind as to his involvement and this remains a missing person inquiry’’.
“Our job as detectives is to follow the evidence, maintain an open mind and establish what happened on that day in May 2007,’’ Cranwell added.
“Please contact us without delay so we can get answers for Madeleine’s family.’’ (dpa/NAN)