A close friend and former cellmate of Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner declared yesterday: ‘I know he did it.’
Michael Tatschl, who lived with Brueckner in a ramshackle farmhouse near the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz, described him as a pervert who was ‘more than capable of snatching a child’.
The Austrian carpenter said his friend bragged about making money by trafficking drugs and burgling apartments, and once talked about ‘selling children to Morocco’.
Michael Tatschl (not pictured), a close friend and former cellmate of Madeline McCann suspect Christian Brueckner (pictured with dog) claims the German was responsible for the toddler’s disappearance
He thinks Brueckner probably sold Madeleine to another individual – possibly a sex ring.
The pair spent eight months in the same prison after they were caught stealing 320 litres of diesel from lorries in Portugal.
Both were released in December 2006 – five months before three-year-old Madeleine, from Rothley, Leicestershire, disappeared from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz.
Mr Taschl, 46, believes Brueckner may have sold Madeline (pictured), who was snatched from Praia da Luiz in Portugal in 2007, to another individual or a sex ring
Does drug deal contact ‘Julia’ hold vital clues?
Police in Germany have appealed for a woman known as ‘Julia’ to come forward with information on Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner.
They believe the drug dealer, who was in contact with the German drifter in the weeks after Maddie vanished, could hold vital news about the case.
Stephanie Gropp, from the public prosecutor’s office in Flensburg, northern Germany, said there was ‘a lot of speculation’ but that ‘it cannot be ruled out’ Brueckner spoke to Julia about his time in Portugal.
Shortly after Maddie vanished from Praia da Luz in 2007, Brueckner moved back to Germany.
He planned to smuggle drugs to the island of Sylt and, say court papers, bought large amounts of marijuana from Julia in the summer of 2007.
Brueckner was sentenced to more than a year for drug trafficking on the North Sea island.
Police could not find Julia and are now urging her to come forward.
Mr Tatschl became convinced of his friend’s involvement after watching an eight-part Netflix documentary on the case last year.
In one episode, a tourist describes how a man fitting Brueckner’s description started acting strangely around her child in Praia da Luz in the days before Madeleine vanished.
Speaking for the first time yesterday, Mr Tatschl revealed that he was grilled for two days about Brueckner last year by police investigating Madeleine’s disappearance.
The father-of-one, who has returned to his homeland, was interviewed for 14 hours by four detectives at a police station in Graz, southern Austria.
Mr Tatschl, 46, said: ‘The detectives were very clear with me from the first minute.
‘They said, “We are investigating Maddie McCann and Christian Brueckner”, and I told them I knew why they were here. I was convinced it was him. I know he did it. I was living with him at the time.
‘He was my best friend and he was definitely a pervert and more than capable of snatching a child, for sexual kicks or money.’
He thought Brueckner would be arrested shortly after his police interview and said he ‘cannot believe’ Portuguese detectives have not yet searched the farmhouse they once shared.
‘When I saw the Netflix documentary I knew immediately that he was guilty,’ he said.
‘It was when the female tourist talked about the man turning up at her door where her child was playing, that I knew it was Christian for sure.
‘She described him as a creepy guy with acne and blond hair, which fits his description.’
Mr Tatschl said he decided against calling the authorities after watching the documentary because of his dislike of the police and his criminal past.
He said Brueckner, now 43, was ‘definitely quite a strange character’ who ‘liked to brag about the crimes he had done and planned to do’. His aim was to steal as much money as he could until he reached his dream of having a million euros.
‘It was rich pickings in Praia da Luz,’ he said. ‘He was always breaking into apartments in the area and bragging about it to me. He was a very good burglar and would easily climb up to first floor apartments when tourists were out.
‘He would steal lots of money, valuables and so many passports. In fact hundreds of passports and lots of Rolexes and other expensive watches.’
Mr Tatschl said Brueckner hid his stolen loot in the rafters of his farmhouse, which overlooks Praia da Luz.
Mr Tatschl admitted Brueckner (pictured) was alway on the dark web and the Austrian carpenter claimed he saw a video of the German raping and beating an older woman chained to a post
While he was in prison, the convicted sex offender asked a German friend to remove the haul from the rafters and keep it in a safe place so the police would not find it.
But the friend decided to keep the stolen valuables, Mr Tatschl said. The friend also found a video of Brueckner raping and beating an older woman while she was chained to a post.
Mr Tatschl said: ‘That’s how I found out he was sick. I told the police all about that. Christian was always on the dark web. I don’t know exactly what he did but I suspect it involved drugs and pornography.
‘He was always bragging about making money. He even talked about selling kids maybe to Morocco, and I think he probably sold Maddie to someone – maybe a sex ring.
‘There have been some sex crimes around the area over the last decade and it wouldn’t be surprising if he was involved.’
Brueckner is in prison in Germany for drugs offences. He has denied any involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance.