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Police search German plot in Madeleine McCann probe

Three-year-old Madeleine McCann went missing from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal on May 3, 2007. UPI File Photo
Three-year-old Madeleine McCann went missing from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal on May 3, 2007. UPI File Photo

July 28 (UPI) -- Police began searching a garden in north-central Germany this week as part of an investigation into the 13-year disappearance of Briton Madeleine McCann, prosecutors said Tuesday.

The search is linked to law enforcement's investigation of convicted sex offender Christian Bruckner, who is serving time in a German prison. Investigators first named Bruckner as a suspect last month after he was suspected in the disappearance of 5-year-old Inga Gehrike in 2015.

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Madeleine disappeared in 2007 at age 3 while her family vacationed in Portugal. Her body was never found but British, German and Portuguese investigators believe it's likely she's dead, and they're treating the case as a homicide investigation.

Inga, known as "the German Maddie" in the German press, is believed to have wandered off into the forest while looking for firewood. Officials said Bruckner owned an allotment within 60 miles of where Inga disappeared and was in Portugal when McCann vanished.

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Police began searching the allotment Monday and were expected to complete their work Wednesday. The plot of land is about 40 miles from Brunswick, near the major city of Hanover.

Officials said Bruckner has been known to law enforcement for years, but detectives now believe they have enough evidence to advance the McCann investigation. Police have asked the public for help in contributing evidence.

Bruckner, 43, has a list of criminal convictions that includes child sexual abuse, theft and drug dealing, and was convicted in December for the 2005 rape of a U.S. tourist.

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Madeleine's parents were initially considered suspects when she disappeared in 2007, and cleared by Portuguese police the following year.

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