Madeleine McCann suspect Christian B to go on trial for rapes and sexual assaults

By Isaac M February 15, 2024

The man suspected of abducting Madeleine McCann goes on trial for sex crimes on Friday – but on charges unrelated to the disappearance of the young British girl.

German drifter Christian B is accused of three rapes and two sex assaults. The youngest alleged victim was 10 and the oldest was in their 70s when the offences are said to have taken place.

German privacy laws mean media outlets cannot make Christian B identifiable – which is why Sky News has covered most of his face and not given his full surname.

The alleged victims in relation to the trial include Irish woman Hazel Behan, who told police she was raped twice, threatened with a knife, tied up, dragged by the hair and subjected to a prolonged attack by a tall, slim German-speaking man after he broke into her apartment.

She was a 20-year-old holiday rep in the resort of Praia da Rocha on Portugal’s Algarve coast when the attack happened in 2004.

She claimed Portuguese police didn’t investigate her rape properly, failed to record a formal statement and told her “it would ruin the holiday trade”.

She thought her case would never be solved until, in 2020, she saw Christian B’s photograph in media reports revealing he was the new suspect in the Madeleine case.

In a statement to Irish police she said: “I began to read this article and from the description of the man being 6ft tall, white, slim build and blond, possibly fair hair, and I felt sick, and I vomited, and my hands were sweating.

“Because it was so alike to the exact description I had given to the police in Portugal at the time of my attack. I was raped by a man fitting the description.”

Ms Behan, now a married mother of three, is expected to be a key witness later in the trial, which will be held on various days over the next four months in the German city of Braunschweig.

The trial is being held there because it’s Christian B’s last registered home, though the five sex crimes he is charged with were allegedly committed in Portugal.

Under EU law, any country can prosecute crimes committed in another member state.

Missing Madeleine McCann
Madeleine McCann

Christian B, 47, is charged with two other rapes; an unidentified woman aged between 70 and 80 in a holiday apartment and an unknown girl of at least 14 who he’s said to have tied to a post and whipped at his rented home in Praia da Luz, the seaside village from where Madeleine later vanished in 2007.

He is also said to have grabbed a 10-year-old girl and exposed himself to her on Salema beach, and committed a similar act in a playground in the village of Sao Bartolomeu de Messines in the hills above the coast.

He was arrested in Messines in 2017 and extradited to Germany to complete an outstanding sentence there, the same year he became a formal suspect in the Madeleine McCann case.

Madeleine was nearly four years old when she vanished without a trace from her family’s rented holiday apartment in May 2007.

It has become one of the world’s most notorious mysteries. German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters has said he believes Christian B abducted Madeleine and that she is dead, but the suspect has not been charged and denies any involvement.

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Madeleine McCann went missing in 2007
Madeleine McCann went missing in 2007

Serafim Vieira, a Portuguese lawyer who defended Christian B over diesel theft in 2006, said: “The man I knew then is not the man that I found out to be or is supposed to be.

“He seemed just like a normal guy that was travelling around Europe, having a good time, eventually doing things that were not quite right, as many do.”

Mr Vieira said he doubted that Christian B could get a fair trial after so much has been said and written about his character and previous convictions.

He said: “The world thinks the worst of him, especially because of what the prosecutor has said about his involvement in the Madeleine McCann case.

“I hope he can get a fair trial, but it’s difficult.”

Christian B is currently in a German jail serving a seven-year sentence for the rape of a 72-year-old American woman at her home in Praia da Luz in 2005.

He is expected to deny all the rape and sex charges, said to have been committed from 2000 to 2017 while he was travelling regularly between Germany and Portugal, when they are put to him in court on Friday.


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