Maddie McCann suspect to stay behind bars as rape sentence upheld
Berlin, Germany - The prime suspect in the disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann will remain in jail after German authorities on Friday approved a seven-year rape sentence he had sought to appeal.
Christian B. was sentenced in December 2019 to seven years in jail for the rape of a 72-year-old woman in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz in 2005, the same town where McCann went missing.
He appealed the sentence over a technicality related to extradition protocol, taking the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The ECJ ruled on September 24 that the conviction was justified, paving the way for Germany's Federal Court of Justice to dismiss the appeal as unfounded.
"The judgement in question is therefore final," the German court said in a statement.
Christian B., who has a string of convictions over different crimes, is currently serving a sentence for drug trafficking in the northern German city of Kiel which ends on January 7, 2021.
He had applied for early release and could technically have been freed if the separate sentence over the rape in Portugal hadn't been confirmed.
Another German court on Thursday however denied his application for early release, claiming he had broken parole in the past and represented a risk to society.
Friday's ruling means that when the jail term for drug trafficking ends, the prison time for rape will begin.
Both cases are entirely separate to the inquiry into McCann's disappearance.
The little girl went missing from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007, a few days before her fourth birthday, as her parents dined with friends at a nearby tapas bar.
Despite a huge international manhunt, no trace of her has been found, nor has anyone been charged over her disappearance.
But in June, German prosecutors made the stunning announcement that they were investigating 43-year-old Christian B. in connection with the case, saying they have "concrete evidence" he killed Maddie.
British police are however still treating her disappearance as a missing persons case.