OLIVE Press editor Jon Clarke has told Sky News he believes the Madeleine McCann case is still a missing persons enquiry, and not a murder probe.
Promoting his new book, My Search for Madeleine, he told presenter Kay Burley that there is ‘still a chance’ that she is alive, despite going missing 14 years ago.
His belief is based on the movements of prime suspect Christian Brueckner in May 2007, which could have seen him snatch and take McCann, then 3, across the border into Spain from Portugal.
Described by Sky News crime correspondent Martin Brunt as ‘tirelessly researched’ the book lays to rest any conspiracy theories that the family were involved in her death.
Most importantly, it looks at how the case has developed against Brueckner, 44, since German detectives started to probe him in 2017.
The 130-000 word, 46-chapter book, goes from the first day of the case in May 2007, right up to a three-hour grilling of the German prosecutor in Braunschweig, this summer.
Clarke told Sky News how he had been probing the case since receiving an early morning call to report on a missing child, and expected her to be found by the time he arrived on the Algarve.
He noted that upon arrival in Praia da Luz it was clear that the search operation was ‘fairly haphazard’.
He was even able to walk up the steps and briefly introduce himself to Kate and Gerry McCann, Madeleine’s parents.
Asked by Burley what he thought had happened to her, Clarke stated that it was apparent to him that it had been ‘a snatch’ from the start. Either by someone alone or a paedophile gang who had been ‘watching the apartment and monitoring her’.
In particular, he mentioned the two blonde men who were seen an hour or two before she went missing, on a balcony at the Ocean Club very near the apartment.
Nobody has ever come forward about who these two men were.
However, Clarke, as well as German police, believe that one of these men was very likely drifter Brueckner.
As of June, last year, the authorities have been trying to understand what he was doing in Praia da Luz and how he was able to live there for seven years without being a suspect in various crimes.
Brueckner lived less than a kilometre away from the Ocean Club and had already been convicted twice of molesting children in Germany.
Clarke has ‘traced 19 other convictions against him’, all detailed in his book.
Brueckner has denied all other allegations against him, via his Germany legal team.
Burley finally posed the question whether we will ever know what truly happened to her.
Clarke expressed confidence in the German police force, the BKA, as he believes they have a very strong case against Brueckner.
He emphasised that the BKA and prosecutor had been working behind the scenes for three years before last year’s sensational public appeal.
In the meantime, Brueckner was also being probed on many other cases, including the rape of a 72-year-old woman in Praia da Luz in 2005.
He has since been convicted of the appalling rape of the American victim and sentenced to seven years in prison.
This conviction has also been ratified meaning he won’t be released ‘for at least four years’, so the police have plenty of time to investigate him further on other cases.
In particular, his book reveals how the investigation is continuing into the violent rape of Irish woman Hazel Behan that occurred nearby in Praia da Rocha in 2004, as well as various other cases, including a ten-year-old, who was abused on a nearby beach a few weeks before Madeleine was snatched.