Investigators trying to find evidence that prime suspect Christian Brueckner is responsible for the disappearance of Madeleine McCann are now looking into reports that Brueckner’s ex-girlfriend owned a “secret compound” in Portugal, some 38 miles from Praia da Luz.
Nicole Fehlinger’s father Dieter revealed the details of the compound in an extended interview with German prosecutors.
He said that the remote estate, which is guarded by a pack of fearsome Kangal dogs, is “an overgrown property of over 5,000 square metres”.
“ It was a secure area, enclosed with fencing and four aggressive Kangal dogs were there day and night.
“The area is completely overgrown, not visible. No one could get in or out, only my daughter and perhaps Brueckner with her.”
Brueckner, 44, was named as the prime suspect in the McCann case after phone records placed him in the resort on the night she vanished.
He remains the sole suspect. Nicole Fehlinger, a mother of three who was part of a fostering programme in Portugal for troubled German youngsters, is not believed to be connected with th disappearance of the Leicestershire youngster.
One former friend of Brueckner’s, who asked not to be named, told The Mirror they were shocked that police have yet to formally charge the convicted rapist in connection with the McCann case.
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"I can’t believe it’s been a year and nothing seems to have happened," they said.
"The more we remembered about him and read about his past, the more we believed he was the man responsible for taking Madeleine."
They added: "We’re scared he’ll never face justice and will have to be freed and could then come back here.”
Brueckner has consistently denied any involvement in the British tot's disappearance.
Hans Christian Wolters, lead prosecutor in the probe, says his team is "pleased” with how the investigation has progressed over the past year and that they had received "very interesting tips".
He told the Mirror: "We hope we can solve the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, although this will take several months."
"We are pleased with the response to our appeal for witnesses. But unfortunately, not all our questions have been answered.”
Asked when Brueckner will be questioned, Wolters said: "At the end of the investigation.
"When we have completed our investigations, we will inform the public about the result and then also about further details," he added.
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