British police investigating the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine McCann have identified a new suspect in the case which they called a “significant new line of inquiry”.
The new development comes 13 years after the child vanished while on holiday in Portugal with her British parents.
Madeleine had been sleeping in the family’s holiday apartment when she disappeared on May 3, 2007. She has never been found and no one has been charged over her disappearance.
The new suspect is a German man who is currently in jail in Germany for an unrelated crime, according to the UK’s Metropolitan Police.
The police didn’t identify the suspect by name, but said he was a white, 43-year-old male. The man was known to live periodically in the Algarve region in the south of Portugal between 1996 and 2007 when Madeleine disappeared.
“He is connected to the area of Praia da Luz and surrounding regions, and spent some short spells in Germany,” the police said in a statement.
“It’s more than 13 years since Madeleine went missing and none of us can imagine what it must be like for her family, not knowing what happened or where she is.”
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Cranwell said: “Following the 10-year anniversary, the Met received information about a German man who was known to have been in and around Praia da Luz.
“We have been working with colleagues in Germany and Portugal and this man is a suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance.”
The police also revealed details of two cars linked to the suspect around the time Madeleine disappeared.
“The first vehicle is a distinctive VW T3 Westfalia campervan. It is an early 1980s model, with two tone markings, a white upper body and a yellow skirting. It had a Portuguese registration plate.”
“The suspect had access to this van from at least April 2007 until sometime after May 2007. It was used in and around the area of Praia da Luz.
“The second vehicle is a 1993 British Jaguar, model XJR 6, with a German number plate and registered in Germany.”
“This car is believed to have been in the Praia da Luz and surrounding areas in 2006 and 2007. The car was originally registered in the suspect’s name.
“On May 4, 2007, the day after Madeleine’s disappearance, the car was re-registered to someone else in Germany.”
The detectives working on the case have urged members of the public with any information on these vehicles to come forward.
A $36,323 reward is being offered for information that leads to the conviction of those responsible.
The UK Metropolitan police began a review of the case in 2011 — the large scale review was called Operation Grange.
As part of the investigation the detectives searched through more than 40,000 documents, and hundreds of leads believed to be connected to the three-year-old’s disappearance.
The review has cost at least $21.34 million.