German investigators have reportedly found a hidden cellar at a former home of the prime suspect in the Madeleine McCann case.
German media reported on Wednesday evening that they had discovered a cellar that was once part of a small building torn down in late 2007.
A former neighbour told local media that main suspect, Christian Brueckner, lived on the plot in a campervan in 2007 – arriving not long after Madeleine’s disappearance from Praia de Luz in Portugal‘s Algarve and leaving within a year.
Police have not commented on the reported discovery of a cellar and prosecutors did not say what they were looking for at the allotment.
However, it is suspected that police believe Brueckner may have driven from Portugal to Germany, taking the three-year-old with him.
Investigators at the allotment put up two tents and continued to dig even further into the ground on Wednesday after cutting down trees and bushes earlier this week, German news agency dpa reported.
They removed parts of the foundation of the former structure, dpa reported, in a likely reference to the cellar. A man on a neighbouring plot told the agency that the garden had not been used for the last two years.
German authorities said last month they had identified a 43-year-old German citizen as a suspect in the case and are investigating him on suspicion of murder.
Brueckner, 43, is currently in prison for drug dealing, and is appealing a conviction for the 2005 rape of a 72-year-old American woman in Praia da Luz. The attack happened a year and a half before Madeleine’s disappearance.
Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) has said Brueckner had a history of child sex offences and other crimes, including drug trafficking and burgling holiday apartments in Portugal.
Having spent many years in Portugal since 1995, after fleeing a German prison sentence, he was last registered as living in the German city of Braunschweig, which is about 64km (40 miles) from Hanover.
Scotland Yard has previously admitted Brueckner was among 600 people previously considered of potential significance during the McCann inquiry, but was not considered a suspect until a 2017 appeal unearthed new information.
Additional reporting by PA
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies