Madeleine McCann 'assumed dead' by German prosecutors

Madeleine McCann: German prisoner identified as suspect

Madeleine McCann 'assumed dead' by German prosecutors

A 43-year-old German man who travelled around Portugal during a camper van is now the main target of Scotland Yard's investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann 13 years ago.

Police believe the person , now in jail for a sexual assault , was within the area where the girl, then aged three, was last seen.

Madeleine's parents Gerry and Kate McCann thanked the police, adding: "All we've ever wanted is to seek out her."

Police are appealing for information about two vehicles owned by the person .

The day after Madeleine vanished, the suspect transferred a Jaguar car to someone else's name.

Madeleine went missing from an apartment on a Portuguese resort on the evening of three May 2007, while her parents were with friends at a close-by tapas bar.

Her disappearance sparked an enormous and dear police hunt across much of Europe - the foremost recent Metropolitan police work , which began in 2011, has cost quite £11m.

"Someone out there knows tons quite they're letting on," said Det Ch Insp Mark Cranwell, who is leading the Met inquiry.

The force said it remained a "missing persons" investigation because it doesn't have "definitive evidence" on whether Madeleine is alive or not.

 Madeleine McCann 'assumed dead' by German prosecutors

However, German investigators have classed it as a murder inquiry.

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The London police said the German authorities had taken the lead at this stage of the case because the German suspect was in custody in their country.

German police told the country's ZDF channel the suspect, who isn't being named, may be a convict currently in prison for a sexual assault .

The man has two previous convictions for "sexual contact with girls", consistent with Christian Hoppe from Germany's federal criminal police station .

'Critical' information
An appeal on German television was broadcast tonight at 19:15 BST.

Det Ch Insp Cranwell said the prisoner, then aged 30, frequented the Algarve between 1995 and 2007, staying for "days upon end" in his camper van and living a "transient lifestyle".

He was within the Praia de Luz area where the McCann family was staying when she disappeared and received a call at 7.32pm, which ended at 8.02pm.

Police have released details of the suspect's telephone number and therefore the number which dialled him, saying any information about them might be "critical" to the inquiry.

The suspect is believed to possess been employing a Portuguese mobile , with the amount +351 912 730 680 on the day Madeleine went missing.

The phone received a call within the area of Praia da Luz from a second mobile number, +351 916 510 683, from someone not within the area. they need the one that made this call to return forward.

"They're a key witness and that we urge them to urge in-tuned ," said Det Ch Insp Cranwell.

"Some people will know the person we're describing today... you'll remember of a number of the items he's done," he said.

"He may have confided in you about the disappearance of Madeleine.

"More than 13 years have passed and your loyalties may have changed," he added.

"Now is that the time to return forward."

Is this the breakthrough? is that this German prisoner the person who can unlock the mystery?

It certainly has the texture of a big development - police have used those very words.

Evidence, consistent with detectives, places the person near the scene; the re-registering of his car subsequent day is undoubtedly suspicious.

And his record , disclosed by the German police, may be a disturbing guide on what his motivations may need been.

But... there are numerous false trails within the case before - clues, sightings and suspects that led nowhere.

Three years ago, during the last major police appeal, Scotland Yard said it had been performing on one final "critical" line of inquiry.

Now, we're told there's another one. which will explain why Met detectives - who've been involved within the case for nine years - are being rather more cautious than their German counterparts.

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Madeleine McCann 'assumed dead' by German prosecutors
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