German Suspect In Madeleine Mccann Case Goes On Trial Over Unrelated Sexual Offense Charges

Christian B. centre, arrives at the start of his trial, at Braunschweig district court, in Brunswick, Germany, Friday, Feb. 16, 2024. A man who is also a suspect in the disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann goes on trial Friday over several sexual offenses he is alleged to have committed in Portugal between 2000 and 2017.   (Julian Stratenschulte/dpa via AP)
Christian B. centre, arrives at the start of his trial, at Braunschweig district court, in Brunswick, Germany, Friday, Feb. 16, 2024. A man who is also a suspect in the disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann goes on trial Friday over several sexual offenses he is alleged to have committed in Portugal between 2000 and 2017. (Julian Stratenschulte/dpa via AP)
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BERLIN (AP) — A man who is also a suspect in the disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann went on trial Friday over several unrelated sexual offenses he is alleged to have committed in Portugal between 2000 and 2017. The trial was quickly adjourned until next week.

The 47-year-old German, who has been identified by media as Christian Bruckner, faces three counts of rape and two of sexual abuse of children in the trial at the Braunschweig state court in northern Germany. The start of the trial was delayed because of long queues to get into the courthouse, German news agency dpa reported.

The proceedings were quickly adjourned until next Friday after defense lawyer Friedrich Fülscher filed a challenge against a lay judge on the panel hearing the case who was once alleged to have spread a call to kill former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on social media. Prosecutors joined that challenge.

The suspect hasn’t been charged in the McCann case, in which he is under investigation on suspicion of murder. He spent many years in Portugal, including in the resort of Praia da Luz around the time of Madeleine’s disappearance there in 2007. He has denied any involvement in her disappearance.

He is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence in Germany for a rape he committed in Portugal in 2005. He appeared composed on Friday as he took his place in the courtroom among his four lawyers.

Prosecutors filed charges in the case going to trial on Friday in October 2022. Fülscher has said the defense will seek the suspect's acquittal on all counts, dpa reported.

Prosecutors have said that, at an unspecified time between 2000 and 2006, the suspect allegedly tied up and raped an elderly woman in her vacation apartment in Portugal. He allegedly beat the victim several times with a whip and recorded the incident on video.

During the same time period, he is alleged to have tied a German-speaking girl aged at least 14 to a wooden post in the living room of his residence in Praia da Luz, allegedly beating her with a whip and forcing her to perform oral sex.

In June 2004, the defendant allegedly gained access at night to the apartment of an Irish woman then aged 20 in Praia da Rocha before raping her, tying her to a table and whipping her.

In separate cases in 2007 and 2017, he is accused of exposing himself to girls aged 10 and 11.

The case is being heard in Braunschweig after a higher court ruled that judges in the city have jurisdiction, overturning an earlier decision that they didn't. That decision centered on questions over where the suspect's last residence was in Germany before he went abroad and then to prison.

The court has set 29 trial sessions through to late June.