Portuguese police wind down an international operation to search the Arade Reservoir dam area as part of a 16-year investigation into the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine McCann who disappeared while on holiday in the area with her family. Photo by Ricardo Nascimento/EPA-EFE
May 26 (UPI) — Evidence gathered during a three-day police operation at a Portugese reservoir by officers from three countries searching for the missing British child Madeleine McCann has been passed to German investigators, authorities said.
With the operation now complete, the material collected will be taken back to Germany for analysis by forensics experts, according to a statement Thursday from the Portuguese Judiciary Police which initiated the search at the request of Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA).
“The steps requested by the German authorities, through a request for international cooperation, have been fulfilled, which resulted in the collection of some material that will be subject to the competent expertise.
“The operation was coordinated by the judiciary police, which involved investigators, criminal experts and security personnel. Safeguarding the interests of the investigation still underway in Portugal, the collected material will be delivered to the German authorities.”
BKA investigators and officers from London’s Metropolitan Police, whose Operation Grange to find Madeleine ran for seven years and is still treating the matter as a missing persons case, were also present at the scene.
German police hope to be able to prove suspect Christian Bruckner killed Madeleine who was 3 years old when she vanished from her parents’ holiday apartment in the nearby town of Praia da Luz in 2007.
“Of course we are still looking for the body. We’re not just looking for that, of course. There are other things too. Any discovery of clothing could help our investigation,” said Christian Wolters, the lead German prosecutor.
Arade reservoir, 31 miles from where the McCann’s were staying became a focus of interest because 45-year-old Bruckner, who is serving a sentence in Germany for the 2005 rape of a woman in Praia da Luz, is reported to have visited it frequently.
Witnesses have placed a yellow and white VW campervan Bruckner was driving at the time in Praia da Luz the same day and told police they had seen a toddler with a man fitting his description near the resort the evening of Madeleine’s disappearance.
Police also say phone records corroborate that Bruckner was in the area.