horrific attack | 

Irishwoman allegedly raped by Maddie suspect speaks of her ‘delight’ as he is charged

“I always said from the get-go that my attacker was a German with piercing blue eyes and a voice I would recognise immediately”

Hazel Behan

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

An Irishwoman allegedly raped by Madeleine McCann murder suspect Christian Brueckner 18 years ago has spoken of her “delight” after he was charged.

Brueckner, who German prosecutors believe abducted Maddie in May 2007, has now been charged with the rape of Hazel Behan and four other sex crimes carried out in the same area between 2000 and 2017.

Ms Behan, who was aged 20 and working as a holiday rep at the time of the assault, was attacked inside a holiday apartment in Praia da Rocha - 10 miles from Praia da Luz, where Maddie vanished - in June 2004.

She said a mask-wearing attacker scaled the outside of her apartment as she slept and climbed in through the balcony.

She awoke to find herself being held at knifepoint. She says the man then beat her, tied her up and raped her while filming the attack.

Behan, who is now 39, describer her assailant as “a German man with piercing blue eyes”.

Behan, who had previously waived her right to anonymity to speak about her ordeal, said she was “delighted” that she may finally see justice.

“I am delighted that after many hours and days of interviews in Ireland and Germany I am finally going to see justice,” she said. “It was the most horrific attack.”

Speaking to Olive Press, she added: “It was very hard and gruelling going back over the attack, having to spend over 20 hours with detectives in Ireland and then three days with police in Germany.

“But the specific dedicated teams in both countries were so sensitive and good at taking me back to my room that night.

“I always said from the get-go that my attacker was a German with piercing blue eyes and a voice I would recognise immediately.

“When Brueckner’s name was released in connection to the Madeleine case, I knew it was him. It made me sick to the core.

“I knew I had zero chance of justice, but thanks to all of the campaigning and the perseverance of Madeleine’s amazing parents, today, 18 long years after my rape, I have an opportunity to see my attacker behind bars.”

Brueckner was also charged with two rapes said to have taken place some time between 2000 and 2006 - one on a 14-year-old girl and another on a woman aged between 70 and 80 years old - both at his apartment in Praia da Luz.

He is also accused of ambushing a 10-year-old German girl playing on the beach at Salema in April 2007 - close to where Madeleine vanished just a month later - in the district of Faro in Portugal, wearing only shoes and otherwise naked.

He allegedly forced her to watch him perform a sex act.

Ten years later, he is said to have carried out a similar crime against a girl at a playground at Bartolomeu de Messines in Portugal.

Prosecutors say the girl ran to her father for help and the suspect was arrested by Portuguese police at the scene.

Brueckner's lawyer Friedrich Fulscher said the new charges had come as a “complete surprise” to him and his client.

He said they were based on “dubious witnesses and on video evidence that no one has been able to find”.

Under German law, German nationals accused of crimes in other countries can be tried in their home country.

Investigators believe the 45-year-old also killed Madeleine, then three, after abducting her from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 3, 2007.

However, he has not been charged with her disappearance.

Brueckner, who has denied any involvement in the case, was identified as a suspect in the McCann case by Portuguese officials in June 2020.

The Braunschweig prosecutor's office said in a statement that the accused was the same person under investigation in connection with Madeleine's disappearance.

“Specifically, the accused is charged with three offences of aggravated rape and two offences of sexual abuse of children,” the prosecutor's office added. “The investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann continues.

The case against Brueckner is expected to start next spring.

Brueckner is currently in Oldenburg jail serving seven years for the rape of an elderly American woman in her home in Praia da Luz in 2005.

He was convicted after DNA from a hair in her bed was matched to him. Brueckner and his lawyer Fulscher have denied his involvement and insisted he was convicted after a bungled investigation.

He claims evidence in the new cases being investigated prove Brueckner could not have raped the pensioner as German authorities say that attack and the one on Behan were carried out by the same tattooed man.

Speaking on the 15th anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance Earlier this year, her parents said it is “essential” to learn the truth of what happened to their daughter.

On the same day, the Metropolitan Police, which continues to treat the case as a missing persons inquiry, said it is “committed” to finding the truth.

In July 2013, Scotland Yard launched its own investigation, Operation Grange, into Madeleine's disappearance.

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