German prosecutor in McCann case starts new rape investigation

·2-min read
Apartment where three-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared in 2007, in Praia da Luz

HAMBURG (Reuters) - A German prosecutor trying to build a case against a suspect in the 2007 disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine McCann in Portugal said on Tuesday he had opened an investigation into a reported rape of a young woman in the same area in 2004.

The investigation into the girl's disappearance 13 years ago is now focused on a 43-year-old German identified as Christian B., named by the prosecutor in June.

Madeleine vanished from her bedroom on May 3, 2007 during a family holiday in the Algarve while her parents dined with friends in the resort of Praia da Luz.

In June, prosecutors in the German city of Braunschweig made a public appeal for clues to help them find concrete evidence against Christian B., who had been living in the Algarve at the time and had a string of prior convictions.

On Tuesday, the prosecutor said he had started his own investigation at the end of June into the case of a young Irish woman after the victim spoke to British media about being raped at knifepoint nearby.

"(The investigations) are ongoing," said Hans Christian Wolters, adding the case was not as extensive as Madeleine's and not all the files from Portugal had been submitted.

According to Portuguese court documents seen by Reuters, Irish babysitter Hazel Behan, 20, reported to Portuguese police that she had been raped in June, 2004.

The victim woke up with a man she did not know wearing black gloves and a hood standing next to her with a knife to her neck, say the documents. He raped her on a table and tied her up with rope. He took photographs of her and cut her clothes with scissors.

The victim gave a physical description of the attacker and said he spoke English but sounded German, Belgian or Dutch.

Christian B. is in a prison in Kiel serving a sentence for drug dealing but has been seeking parole.

(Reporting by Jan Schwartz and Catarina Demony in Portugal; Writing by Madeline Chambers in Berlin; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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