Long-time suspect Christian Brueckner has been declared a formal suspect over the disappearance of Madeleine McCann by Portuguese authorities.

German newspaper Bild reported that Brueckner has been named as an “arguido” or “official suspect” by prosecutors, two years after he was first identified as a prime suspect by German authorities.

The 44-year-old is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence in Germany for the 2005 rape of 72-year-old woman at the same Praia da Luz resort Madeleine disappeared from in 2007.

Madeleine disappeared from the apartment her family was staying in on May 3, 2007, a few days before her fourth birthday.

In a statement issued by the Faro Department of Criminal Investigation and Prosecution (DIAP), prosecutors confirmed Brueckner’s status as an official suspect on Wednesday, April 20.

“As part of the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in 2007, a person was made an arguido on Wednesday,” the Portiamo section of the DIAP said.

It is understood the push to declare Brueckner as a suspect after it emerged he could potentially escape charges due to Portugal’s 15-year statute of limitations for serious crimes, per and the Daily Mail.

“The legal grounds for making Brueckner an arguido include the fact that he allegedly confessed to a friend he had snatched Madeleine and mobile phone records placed him in Praia da Luz the night she vanished,” a “well-placed source” reportedly told the Daily Mail.

“But it is obviously linked to the fact that the Portuguese authorities want to keep their options open with the 15-year deadline looming.”

Brueckner’s lawyers told the publication he hadn’t been charged over Madeleine’s disappearance.

The news comes several months after Brueckner claimed it would have been “absurd” for him to have abducted Madeleine via a string of letters broadcast on German TV.

He wrote that he survived working as a drug dealer by following “a few key principles”, including “not abducting anyone”.

“Where possible, only driving during the day so that my battered ‘hippy bus’ didn’t attract attention, only driving on the roads I needed to and, most importantly, never provoking police,” he wrote.

“So that means not committing any crimes, certainly not abducting anyone.

“Having said that, this was just as absurd to me at the time as starting a nuclear war or slaughtering a chicken.”

Image: Getty Images

This article first appeared on OverSixty.