A close friend and former cellmate of Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner declared yesterday: ‘I know he did it.’
Michael Tatschl, who lived with Brueckner in a ramshackle farmhouse near the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz, described him as a pervert who was ‘more than capable of snatching a child’.
The Austrian carpenter said his friend bragged about making money by trafficking drugs and burgling apartments, and once talked about ‘selling children to Morocco’.
Michael Tatschl (pictured), who lived with Brueckner in a ramshackle farmhouse near the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz, described him as a pervert
He thinks Brueckner probably sold Madeleine to another individual – possibly a sex ring.
The pair spent eight months in the same prison after they were caught stealing 320 litres of diesel from lorries in Portugal.
Both were released in December 2006 – five months before three-year-old Madeleine, from Rothley, Leicestershire, disappeared from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz.
Mr Tatschl became convinced of his friend’s involvement after watching an eight-part Netflix documentary on the case last year.
Michael Tatschl (not pictured), a close friend and former cellmate of Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner (pictured with dog) claims the German was responsible for the toddler’s disappearance
Mr Taschl, 46, believes Brueckner may have sold Madeleine (pictured), who was snatched from Praia da Luiz in Portugal in 2007, to another individual or a sex ring
Does drug deal contact ‘Julia’ hold vital clues?
Police in Germany have appealed for a woman known as ‘Julia’ to come forward with information on Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner.
They believe the drug dealer, who was in contact with the German drifter in the weeks after Maddie vanished, could hold vital news about the case.
Stephanie Gropp, from the public prosecutor’s office in Flensburg, northern Germany, said there was ‘a lot of speculation’ but that ‘it cannot be ruled out’ Brueckner spoke to Julia about his time in Portugal.
Shortly after Maddie vanished from Praia da Luz in 2007, Brueckner moved back to Germany.
He planned to smuggle drugs to the island of Sylt and, say court papers, bought large amounts of marijuana from Julia in the summer of 2007.
Brueckner was sentenced to more than a year for drug trafficking on the North Sea island.
Police could not find Julia and are now urging her to come forward.
In one episode, a tourist describes how a man fitting Brueckner’s description started acting strangely around her child in Praia da Luz in the days before Madeleine vanished.
Speaking for the first time yesterday, Mr Tatschl revealed that he was grilled for two days about Brueckner last year by police investigating Madeleine’s disappearance.
The father-of-one, who has returned to his homeland, was interviewed for 14 hours by four detectives at a police station in Graz, southern Austria.
Mr Tatschl, 46, said: ‘The detectives were very clear with me from the first minute.
‘They said, ‘We are investigating Maddie McCann and Christian Brueckner’, and I told them I knew why they were here. I was convinced it was him. I know he did it. I was living with him at the time.
‘He was my best friend and he was definitely a pervert and more than capable of snatching a child, for sexual kicks or money.’
He thought Brueckner would be arrested shortly after his police interview and said he ‘cannot believe’ Portuguese detectives have not yet searched the farmhouse they once shared.
‘When I saw the Netflix documentary I knew immediately that he was guilty,’ he said.
‘It was when the female tourist talked about the man turning up at her door where her child was playing, that I knew it was Christian for sure.
‘She described him as a creepy guy with acne and blond hair, which fits his description.’
Mr Tatschl said he decided against calling the authorities after watching the documentary because of his dislike of the police and his criminal past.
Speaking for the first time yesterday, Mr Tatschl (pictured) revealed that he was grilled for two days about Brueckner last year by police investigating Madeleine’s disappearance
He said Brueckner, now 43, was ‘definitely quite a strange character’ who ‘liked to brag about the crimes he had done and planned to do’. His aim was to steal as much money as he could until he reached his dream of having a million euros.
‘It was rich pickings in Praia da Luz,’ he said. ‘He was always breaking into apartments in the area and bragging about it to me. He was a very good burglar and would easily climb up to first floor apartments when tourists were out.
‘He would steal lots of money, valuables and so many passports. In fact hundreds of passports and lots of Rolexes and other expensive watches.’
Mr Tatschl said Brueckner hid his stolen loot in the rafters of his farmhouse, which overlooks Praia da Luz.
Mr Tatschl admitted Brueckner (pictured) was always on the dark web and the Austrian carpenter claimed he saw a video of the German raping and beating an older woman chained to a post
While he was in prison, the convicted sex offender asked a German friend to remove the haul from the rafters and keep it in a safe place so the police would not find it.
But the friend decided to keep the stolen valuables, Mr Tatschl said. The friend also found a video of Brueckner raping and beating an older woman while she was chained to a post.
Mr Tatschl said: ‘That’s how I found out he was sick. I told the police all about that. Christian was always on the dark web. I don’t know exactly what he did but I suspect it involved drugs and pornography.
‘He was always bragging about making money. He even talked about selling kids maybe to Morocco, and I think he probably sold Maddie to someone – maybe a sex ring.
‘There have been some sex crimes around the area over the last decade and it wouldn’t be surprising if he was involved.’
Brueckner is in prison in Germany for drugs offences. He has denied any involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance.
Mr Tatschl added that he had returned to Praia da Luz in February 2007 to find Brueckner camping near the town.
He said: ‘He was going to raves and I think selling drugs. I stuck around for a bit and then went back to Spain.’
Just weeks after the abduction of Madeleine McCann Brueckner also travelled to Spain where Mr Tatschl was living in Orgiva, Andalucia.
Tatschl said: ‘In late May or early June he arrived in Spain with his big American camper van. He knew I had connections to the marijuana world and could help him make money.
‘We just thought he was a pervert but didn’t think he liked young children.’
Maddie McCann prime suspect Christian Brueckner is a scapegoat says Portuguese detective who led the original probe into her disappearance
- Goncalo Amaral described 43-year-old German as an ‘almost perfect suspect’
- The former Portuguese police officer said Christian Brueckner is a ‘scapegoat’In 2008 Amaral claimed Madeleine’s parents had covered up their daughter’s accidental death in their Algarve apartment
By Nick Fagge and Gerard Couzens for MailOnline
A disgraced former Portuguese police officer has branded the new Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner a ‘scapegoat.’
Goncalo Amaral described the 43-year-old German as an ‘almost perfect suspect.’
Amaral, who first claimed last April a German paedophile who was in prison would be accused over Maddie’s disappearance, told a Portuguese TV interviewer on Sunday night: ‘When I spoke last year I was talking about the situation that’s happening now.
‘It matters little who the paedophile is.’
Disgraced former Portuguese police officer Goncalo Amaral (pictured) described the 43-year-old German Christian Brueckner as an ‘almost perfect suspect’
He added: ‘He’s an almost perfect suspect. All that’s lacking for him to become the perfect suspect is that he’s dead.’
Asked if he believed Brueckner was the man responsible for Madeleine’s disappearance, he added: ‘To answer that question it has to be proven first that an abduction took place.’
The ex-cop, who claimed in a 2008 controversial book Madeleine’s parents had covered up their daughter’s accidental death in their Algarve apartment, went on to repeat his well-known criticism of the British youngster’s parents and their Tapas Seven holiday friends.
He accused them of abandoning their children to eat out at night and lying to Portuguese police, and said Madeleine had been left crying for around an hour the night before she vanished on May 3 2007.
Gerry and Kate McCann, the parents of Madeleine McCann, talking to the press after attending the libel case against Goncalo Amaral at Lisbon’s Palace of Justice, Portugal, June 2014
A lengthy legal battle with the McCanns ensued after the publication of the book, The Truth of The Lie. The couple sued Amaral for defamation but lost the case.
But during his half-hour-long interview with Portuguese broadcaster TVI, he also accused the authorities of altering photos of the two-tone VW camper van Brueckner was using around the time Madeleine disappeared.
New Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner, 43
The former PJ chief, who was removed as head of the Madeleine McCann inquiry in 2008 after criticising British police officers, showed interviewer Jose Alberto Carvalho photos he said were taken in Portugal of the same vehicle.
One of the photos he produced showed a series of very distinctive Minion-style characters painted on the front and back of the camper van, which in the picture put out by police had no markings on it.
He said: ‘It’s the same vehicle flagged up in the police appeal.
‘I think it’s important to ask why the photo put out by the authorities of the van was altered. Would that vehicle have gone unnoticed in Praia da Luz with those markings on it? I don’t think so.’
Suggesting the van could have looked very different in 2007 to the way it appeared in the photo put out by British police, he added: ‘Is it that the German authorities reached the conclusion that the van wasn’t like that when it was being driven in Praia da Luz in 2007? Who said that?
Pressed on what Portuguese police knew about Brueckner’s past around the time Madeleine disappeared, he appeared to admit Algarve authorities were aware of his 1994 teenage sexual conviction for molesting a six-year-old girl by confessing: ‘At the time all we knew was that this man was a paedophile.’
Madeleine McCann, a 3-year-old British girl who disappeared 13 years ago while on a family holiday in Portugal
He also claimed German authorities wanted to re-examine all the DNA evidence taken from the McCanns’ hire car and holiday apartment.
Rubbishing reports a saliva sample had been found on Madeleine’s bedspread and could prove key to a conviction now Brueckner had been identified as a new suspect, he said it had been proven it belonged to a baby being fed mother’s milk staying in the apartment before the McCanns arrived.
Asked why he thought the German authorities might have interest in coming up with new information which had no real value, Amaral claimed: ‘Because it enables them to have jurisdiction over this case.
‘I think the Portuguese police and the authorities can do anything here in laboratories that they can do in Germany. ‘
Amaral’s interview was his first since Brueckner’s name was made public – and the first time he has spoken about the case since last December when he appeared on Spanish TV.