The disappearance of Madeleine McCann, a case that has captivated the world for 13 years, could finally be coming to a close.
German authorities have named a new suspect in the case, 43-year-old Christian Brückner, also referred to as Christian B.
Brückner is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence for the rape of a 72-year-old American woman in 2005, and has previously been convicted of unrelated child sex abuse offences and drug trafficking charges.
And now he could be stuck in prison for life, if German prosecutors are successful with their investigation.
German investigators believe that Brückner killed Maddie shortly after abducting her from a holiday apartment in the Portuguese resort town of Praia da Luz in May 2007.
German police were first tipped off about Brückner after they investigated claims he was allegedly living in a borrowed camper van in Algarve, the regional of Portugal where Maddie and her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, were staying when she disappeared.
Police also cottoned on to Brückner after he allegedly told a friend about Maddie's abduction over a drink on the 10th anniversary of her disappearance in 2017, and then shown the person a video of a rape.
Brückner's British ex-girlfriend claims the night before Madeleine was abducted, she had a chilling conversation with the suspect over dinner.
He told her: "I have a job to do in Praia da Luz tomorrow. It's a horrible job but it's something I have to do and it will change my life. You won't be seeing me for a while."
He disappeared at exactly the same time as Maddie, resurfacing three years later working in a bar in Lagos, not far from Praia da Luz.
It was in this bar that another British girlfriend said he looked exactly like the suspect in police photos being distributed.
The girlfriend jokingly asked: "You did it Christian, didn't you?"
A friend of the girlfriend told The Sun: "He blanked the question and shrugged — then added, 'Just don't go there'."
Brückner's lawyer Friedrich Fulscher says his client is remaining silent on all the allegations and is not cooperating with police, on his own advice.
He says this is because prosecutors have not produced enough evidence that Brückner is guilty yet - and certainly not enough to begin a trial.
"Mr B is remaining silent on the allegation at this time on the advice of his defence counsel. This is quite common in criminal proceedings," Fulscher told The Times.
"It is the duty of the state to prove that a suspect committed a crime. No accused person has to prove his innocence to the investigating authorities."
German prosecutors have now formally written to Maddie's parents, informing them of their official view that their daughter is dead.
However, they are unable to publicly state why they are so certain of this fact - and they are also prevented from informing the McCann's of the reason why.
"We have concrete evidence that our suspect has killed Madeleine and this means she is dead," a spokesman for Germany's Braunschweig Public Prosecutor's Office, Hans Christian Wolters, told journalists.
"The parents have been told the German police have evidence that she is dead but we have not told them the details.
"We can't say why she is dead - it is more important that we are successful and we are able to get the culprit, as opposed to just putting our cards on the table and telling them why we think she might be.
"I sympathise with the parents, but if we reveal more details to them it might jeopardise the investigation," he said.
He also added: "This is a murder case, not a missing person's case."
WATCH BELOW: Watch the trailer for the Netflix doco on Madeleine McCann's disappearance. Story continues after video.
But despite this harrowing declaration, authorities are still appealing for more information about Maddie's disappearance, because they do not have enough evidence to bring the case to trial.
"The hard evidence we don't have, we don't have the crucial evidence of Madeleine McCann's body," Wolters told Sky News.
"We expect that she is dead, but we don't have enough evidence that we can get a warrant for our suspect in Germany for the murder of Madeleine McCann.
"At the moment, we also don't have enough proof for a trial at court, but we have some evidence that the suspect has done the deed.
"That's why we need more information from people, especially places he has lived, so we can target these places especially and search there for Madeleine."
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