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New developments Madeleine McCann suspect to be charged with rape of Irish woman in Portugal resort

German national Christian Brückner is the prime suspect for the three-year-old’s disappearance and is also suspected of the rape of Ms Behan (37).

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Christian Bruckner, the prime suspect in the McCann case

Christian Bruckner, the prime suspect in the McCann case

Christian Bruckner, the prime suspect in the McCann case

THE chief suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann is set to be charged in relation to the rape of an Irish woman 17 years ago.

Hazel Behan was working as a holiday representative on the Algarve in June 2004 when she was violently assaulted two weeks before her 21st birthday.

The attack happened in Praia da Rocha, around 30km from the Praia da Luiz apartment where Madeleine McCann was abducted three years later.

German national Christian Brückner is the prime suspect for the three-year-old’s disappearance and is also suspected of the rape of Ms Behan (37).

She had awoken to a find man standing in her room with a machete before being subjected to a lengthy attack.

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Hazel Behan previously discussed her ordeal on The Late Late Show

Hazel Behan previously discussed her ordeal on The Late Late Show

Hazel Behan previously discussed her ordeal on The Late Late Show

Prosecutors are now set to bring charges against Brückner in the next 12 weeks in relation to the attack on Hazel Behan.

It’s understood that authorities have been in constant contact with Ms Behan and that she has previously been made aware of the new developments.

When contacted by Independent.ie, Ms Behan said she did not wish to comment at this time.

Hans Christian Wolters, leading the investigations into the rape of Ms Behan and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, said there were parallels in the crimes.

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Christian Brückner is suspected in the disappearance and murder of Madeleine McCann

Christian Brückner is suspected in the disappearance and murder of Madeleine McCann

Christian Brückner is suspected in the disappearance and murder of Madeleine McCann

“The case against the suspect Christian B for the rape of Hazel Behan is in a good way, and it may be that we can charge him in the next three months,” he told The Sunday Times.

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“I am very hopeful to bring a charge on this case. We are building a picture of Christian B and the methods he used to commit his crimes."

Christian Brückner is suspected in the disappearance and murder of Madeleine McCann

Brückner, who can only be identified by German officials as Christian B due to the country’s strict privacy laws, is currently serving a seven-year jail term for the rape of a US woman (72) in 2005.

This is currently under appeal.

“There are parallels with the case of the American tourist who was raped, the attack on Hazel Behan, and the abduction and murder of Madeleine McCann,” Mr Wolters said.

“In each case the person has come into the person’s apartment or property by breaking and entering, often not through the door,” he added.

Brückner spent large amounts of time in the Algarve between 1995 to 2007 where he was a drifter with a string of previous convictions for sex offences and child abuse.

Last June he was named as a chief suspect in the disappearance and suspected murder of Madeline McCann (3), who was last seen on May 3, 2007.

A month later, the investigation into the rape of Ms Behan was reopened after she came forward saying she believed Brückner was her attacker.

At the time she told police the man involved was about 6ft 1in tall (1.85m), had “blond eyebrows, piercing blue eyes” and spoke English with a German accent.

Ms Behan, who is originally from Dublin but now lives in Westmeath with her family, said she also noted similarities between her attack and the rape of the American woman.

She previously said she was “mind blown” when details of his attack on the 72-year-old emerged, saying there were similar tactics and methods in both crimes.

Recalling her attack last year, she said she was awoken by someone calling her name and saw a man armed with a 12in machete standing in the room.

During the ordeal, which went on for up to five hours, he repeatedly cleaned himself in between the attacks.

In 2019 Ms Behan was selected as Sinn Féin’s candidate for the Kinnegad area in the local elections and is also an advocate for people who have experienced domestic abuse or sexual abuse.

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