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German McCann suspect likely to lose rape case appeal

  • August 06, 2020

An advocate general from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) supported the legitimacy of a 2019 conviction of the German suspect from the Madeleine McCann case.

The non-binding opinion from the ECJ’s top legal advisor, Advocate General Michal Bobek, said he supported the sentencing of the suspect, known as Christian B, in late 2019 for the rape of a 72-year-old woman in the Portuguese town of Praia da Luz in 2005. B. argued that the conviction should not have occurred as he was extradited from Portugal on another charge. 

ECJ rules do not allow for prosecution for crimes that happened before the extradition case. The EU court said this rule did not apply in this instance.  

Thursday’s announcement was simply an opinion and not legally binding, but the court tends to follow the advice of an advocate general. 

Christian B’s defense lawyer, Friedrich Fülscher said the statement “does not constitute anything other than the advocate general’s personal legal opinion.”

“The decision is still entirely open. I will have to look more closely at the legal reasoning in the next few days,” Fülscher told AFP.

Read more: Madeleine McCann case — German police end garden search

Christian B is currently serving a 21-month sentence in Kiel from a drug charge. His sentence ends on January 7, 2021. There is a chance he could receive an early release from the sentence. But whether he can leave prison depends on a separate ECJ ruling on the sentence issued in December 2019 stemming from a rape and extortion case. That has not yet been enforced. 

Impact on McCann case

The decision could influence the case of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, as the man is also under investigation for her abduction from an apartment in the same Portuguese town as the rape case. McCann was abducted in May 2007 just before she was to turn four years old and has not been seen since.

Read more: Madeleine McCann: Police found files linking suspect with crime – report

German prosecutors are working on the belief that McCann is dead. 

German police searched an allotment in connection to McCann’s disappearance last month. They did not say if there was anything that could resolve the case.

kbd/rc (AFP, dpa)

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