The witness who helped relaunch the probe into Madeleine McCann’s disappearance has insisted suspect Christian Brueckner is guilty and will ‘stay in jail for a long time’.
Helge Busching has broken his 12-year-long silence to stand by his claims to police that the convicted German rapist was behind the infamous abduction in 2007.
The 48-year-old was the first person to go to police with information about Brueckner in 2017, around the tenth anniversary of her going missing.
He says he knows that Brueckner killed the three-year-old, who personally told him several details about events surrounding the disappearance.
The witness who helped relaunch the probe into Madeleine McCann’s disappearance has insisted suspect Christian Brueckner is guilty and will ‘stay in jail for a long time’
When asked by The Sun what he thought of Brueckner, he said: ‘One word. Guilty.’
Main suspect Brueckner is currently in jail for drugs offences, and is appealing a seven-year sentence for raping a 73-year-old woman.
Busching, now a recycling worker, was tracked down to a village on the Greek island of Corsica, having remained anonymous since he provided evidence to officers three years ago.
In a statement he gave to officials at the time, Bushin claims Brueckner, 43, told him he was involved in abducting Maddie while they were talking at a kite festival in Orgiva, Spain.
He described the main suspect as a ‘German male person, whom I know by the name of Christian’, adding how he would ‘talk in detail of his knowledge’ of his connection with Madeleine McCann.
Main suspect Brueckner is currently in jail for drugs offences, and is appealing a seven-year sentence for raping a 73-year-old woman
The then-three-year-old was taken from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007, while her parents had dinner in a nearby tapas bar.
Met Police and Portuguese authorities have continued a relentless search for her, but after Brueckner became a suspect in the case, investigating German police claim they have found evidence that Madeleine has been killed.
Her parents Kate and Gerry McCann continue to believe that she is alive.
Busching said he and another friend Manfred Seyferth knew Brueckner from when they all lived in the same Portuguese resort that the McCanns holidayed in.
It is believed Bushing did not have much contact with Brueckner following this, but found himself with his own criminal difficulties.
After first being arrested over a 2011 assault on a beggar in Italy, he was later picked up by police trying to smuggle migrants from Greece to Italy.
While under investigation he was put in touch with Operation Grange – the Met Police’s team investigating Madeleine’s disappearance – where he gave them details about Brueckner.
According to an internal Greek police report, Busching’s information was described as ‘given voluntarily and without monetary or other consideration’.
Then three-year-old Maddie McCann was taken from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007, while her parents had dinner in a nearby tapas bar
It is unclear why Busching waited nearly ten years before telling cops of Brueckner’s alleged involvement.
However, Busching, along with Seyferth, did help convict Brueckner last December for the rape of a 73-year-old woman just outside of Praia da Luz two years before Maddie’s disappearance.
The American victim had told cops her attacker filmed the attack and appeared to get a thrill out of seeing her begging him to stop.
Busching and Seyferth are said to have stolen a video camera in Brueckner’s home while he was in jail for theft. They contacted police after seeing the images and told them it was Brueckner.
Kate and Gerry McCann (pictured together) discovered their daughter Madeleine missing in Praia da Luz in May 2007
He is currently appealing the seven-year sentence he was given.
When asked recently about the investigation, Bushing said: ‘I am not allowed to say anything about Brueckner but I hope he stays in jail.’
Mr Fulscher has been in Portugal this week looking for witnesses who he believes will clear him. He told The Sun: ‘My client is being investigated on the claims of two very dubious and unbelievable wit- nesses who are convicted criminals themselves and have problems with drink and drugs.’
In 2014, Brueckner assaulted a five-year-old girl in a public park in Braunschweig, northern Germany before taking graphic photographs of her which he saved on a memory card.
During an investigation, police raided his flat, they found a Casio Exilim digital camera with 391 vile images and 68 videos of abuse. On the same camera, detectives found about five photographs of Brueckner abusing the five-year-old girl in the park.
He was first tried at a lower court for sexual abuse, but was acquitted in 2016 and fled to Portugal.
He was extradited back to Germany a year later to stand trial again, where he confessed to abusing the girl and owning the camera. He is currently serving his sentence in Kiel prison near Hamburg.
While in prison, Brueckner was also found guilty of raping a 72-year-old American woman in Praia da Luz in 2005.
His lawyers, who deny he had any involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance, are seeking to use a procedural error to overturn his seven-year sentence for the rape.
Brueckner’s lawyer Friedrich Fulscher said last week that his client was ‘innocent’ of any involvement in the disappearance of Madeleine.
What do we know about Maddie murder suspect Christian Brueckner and his criminal past?
1976: Christian Brueckner is born in Würzburg under a different name. He was adopted by the Brueckner family and took their surname.
1992: Brueckner is arrested on suspicion of burglary in his hometown of Wurzburg, Bavaria.
1994: He is given a two-year youth jail sentence for ‘abusing a child’ and ‘performing sex acts in front of a child’.
1995: Brueckner arrives in Portugal as an 18-year-old backpacker and begins working in catering in the seaside resorts of Lagos and Praia da Luz. But friends say he became involved with a criminal syndicate trafficking drugs into the Algarve.
September 2005: He dons a mask and breaks into an apartment where he rapes a 72-year-old American tourist.
The victim was bound, gagged, blindfolded and whipped with a metal cane before being raped for 15 minutes. She said afterwards that he had clearly enjoyed ‘torturing’ her before the rape.
April 2007: He moves out of a farmhouse and into a campervan now linked to the crime. The farmhouse is cleaned and a bag of wigs and ‘exotic clothes’ is found.
May 3, 2007: Madeleine McCann is snatched at around 10pm from her bed as her parents eat tapas with friends yards away. Brueckner’s mobile phone places him in the area that night. He returns to his native Germany shortly after that.
October 2011: He is sentenced to 21 months for ‘dealing narcotics’ in Niebüll, in northern Germany.
2014: He moves to Braunschweig where he starts running a town-centre kiosk. He then goes back to Portugal with a girlfriend.
2016: He is back in Germany. He is given 15 months in prison for ‘sexual abuse of a child in the act of creating and possessing child pornographic material’.
May 3, 2017: Brueckner is said to be in a bar with a friend when a ten-year anniversary appeal following Madeleine’s disappearance is shown on German television. He is said to have told him in a bar that he ‘knew all about’ what happened to her. The friend apparently went to police.
June 2017: He heads back to Portugal and is extradited again to Germany to face 15 months’ imprisonment for the sexual abuse of a child.
August 2018: After his release from prison he lives on the streets. But he was jailed again for drug offences.
September 2018: Brueckner is arrested in Milan and extradited to Germany and to face trial for raping the American tourist after a DNA match to hair found at the scene.
July 2019: He is jailed for 21 months for drug dealing in the northern German resort of Sylt.
August 2019: Brueckner is charged with the rape of the American tourist in Praia da Luz in 2005.
December 2019: He is convicted of rape raping the tourist based on DNA evidence. He is given a seven year sentence, but has not yet started it because of an ongoing appeal.
June 4, 2020: Brueckner is named by German media as the prime suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance.