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The trial of Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner was halted almost before it had even begun this morning after the judge adjourned the court following the defence team’s successful attempt to discredit a lay judge.

Brueckner, 47, arrived in court in Brunswick, Germany, earlier today to stand trial on a slew of sex abuse charges – his first public appearance in four years.

He was pictured pulling up in a prison van outside the courtroom wearing a dark green hooded sweater concealing a drab grey jacket and shirt, and his beady blue eyes could be seen peering out between the bars crisscrossing the vehicle’s windows.

He was then hauled out and marched past a clamouring crowd of some 40 journalists toward the courthouse in handcuffs by three burly security guards, and was pictured wearing a sombre expression as he arrived in the courtroom.

But the trial got off to an explosive start when his lawyer, Dr Sebastian Fuelscher, began proceedings by immediately attempting to discredit one of the lay judges – Ms Britta Thielen-Donckel – revealing she had repeatedly called for the assassination of the Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro on social media.

Lay judges collaborate with regular judges in trials, participating in deliberations and assisting in rendering verdicts and deciding sentences.

He read out some of the social media posts, which included ‘Kill the b******!’ and ‘Kill the devil’, declaring the ‘radical’ comments made her unsuitable to carry out her role as a lay judge. 

The judge adjourned the court to consider the request, before returning 40 minutes later and duly removed Ms Thielen-Donckel from the panel, scoring an early win for Brueckner’s defence team. 

Court was immediately adjourned until next Friday as authorities search for a replacement lay judge, with Brueckner returned to his cell. 

Speaking to press as he left court, Fuelscher cryptically smirked: ‘I have many aces up my sleeve.’ 

Lay judge is REMOVED from Christian Brueckner sex trial on first day after discrediting social media posts are revealed: Madeleine McCann suspect’s lawyer boasts ‘I have aces up my sleeve’

Christian Brueckner in court today

The ageing convict was led into the courtroom, where he was pictured standing wearing a sombre expression as the trial got underway

The ageing convict was led into the courtroom, where he was pictured standing wearing a sombre expression as the trial got underway

Brueckner is seen in handcuffs as he sits beside his legal counsel

Brueckner is seen in handcuffs as he sits beside his legal counsel

Brueckner and his lawyer stand to hear opening statements from the court

Brueckner and his lawyer stand to hear opening statements from the court

Friedrich Fuelscher, a lawyer representing Brueckner, is seen arriving into court

Friedrich Fuelscher, a lawyer representing Brueckner, is seen arriving into court

Christian Brueckner was pictured pulling up in prison van outside the courtroom in Brunswick, Lower Saxony

Christian Brueckner was pictured pulling up in prison van outside the courtroom in Brunswick, Lower Saxony

Christian Brueckner was pictured pulling up in prison van outside the courtroom in Brunswick, Lower Saxony

Christian Brueckner was pictured pulling up in prison van outside the courtroom in Brunswick, Lower Saxony

Lay judge Britta Donckel was removed from the panel after Brueckner’s lawyer revealed social media posts calling for the death of former Brazilian president Bolsonaro

Brueckner, 47, was sensationally named in June 2020 by German police as the man responsible for Madeleine's abduction and murder while on holiday with her parents Kate and Gerry McCann

Brueckner, 47, was sensationally named in June 2020 by German police as the man responsible for Madeleine’s abduction and murder while on holiday with her parents Kate and Gerry McCann

Police officers stand guard as people queue at the entrance of the court where a man, who is a suspect in the disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann in Portugal, stands trial in Germany on unrelated sexual assault charges, in Braunschweig, Germany, February 16, 2024

Police officers stand guard as people queue at the entrance of the court where a man, who is a suspect in the disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann in Portugal, stands trial in Germany on unrelated sexual assault charges, in Braunschweig, Germany, February 16, 2024

Convicted rapist and paedophile Christian Brueckner was last seen in public in 2020 when he was loaded into an ambulance by paramedics after being assaulted in prison

Convicted rapist and paedophile Christian Brueckner was last seen in public in 2020 when he was loaded into an ambulance by paramedics after being assaulted in prison

The 47-year-old Brueckner stands accused of three rapes and two indecent assaults in cases relating to five women and girls aged between 10 and 80 years old – charges the convicted sex offender shamelessly told MailOnline were ‘ridiculous’.

A total of 29 days are scheduled for the trial that will see more than 40 witnesses take the stand, with a verdict expected to be reached in June. 

If he is found guilty of all charges Brueckner will likely spend the rest of his life in jail.

But officials hope that by securing a conviction, Brueckner will crack and offer information on Madeleine in exchange for a more lenient sentence – though sources close to him say he will remain silent and offer no testimony.

Brueckner is already serving a seven year sentence for raping an elderly US woman on the Algarve in 2005 and was jailed in 2019 after evidence from two former pals who will also testify at his new trial. 

His appearance in court today was the first time the convicted sex offender has been seen in public since 2020, when he was snapped clambering into an ambulance to receive treatment after being assaulted in prison. 

The start of the trial was delayed by 40 minutes because of the chaotic scenes outside the courthouse.

Madeleine McCann disappearance: When did Maddie go missing? Full timeline and investigation history 

Media and public had to go through two security scanners and were checked again by guards wielding hand wands before being allowed into the first-floor courtroom.

Prosecutors have filed a 100 page indictment against Brueckner and the judge Christina Engelmann will try the case alongside three other judges.

There is also a four person lay jury made up of two men and two women.

Brueckner, 47, was sensationally named in June 2020 by German police as the man responsible for Madeleine’s abduction and murder while on holiday with her parents Kate and Gerry McCann.

The then three year old from Rothley, Leicestershire, was snatched from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on Portugal’s Algarve coast in May 2007 and since then has not been seen or heard of since.

Brueckner – who was living in the area at the time – has previously denied to MailOnline any involvement in her abduction and killing.

The charges he is facing in court today are unrelated to the Madeleine case. 

He insists DNA and electronic evidence against him is wrong and witnesses are lying about him.

Prosecutors also face a dilemma as two of the rape victims are unidentified but the third victim is known – Irish tour guide Hazel Behan who says she was attacked in 2004 while working in the Algarve.

She says she was threatened with a knife, tied up and subjected to a hours long attack by a man who she later recognised as Brueckner after his picture was released by German police in 2020.

At the time she was a 20-year-old rep and the now married mother of three will be among several key witnesses who will give evidence at the trial which is due to last until June.

The other two rapes involve an unidentified woman aged between 70 and 80 years old and an unknown girl of around 14.

The fourth charge is an indecent assault against a 10 year old girl on a beach close to where Madeleine vanished from a month later, and the last is also indecent assault against another child in the Algarve in a playground in 2017.

Commenting on the case prior to the trial, Brueckner, who denies the charges, said in a mocking tone:’ I hope (they) will find some answers to (their) questions soon.’

MailOnline learned Brueckner was moved from Oldenburg prison in northern Germany, where he was serving his seven-year sentence, to Schnedebruch near Hannover for the duration of the trial.

He was also moved after complaining of ill treatment from guards at Oldenburg where he was in a secure isolated unit.

Bruecker told MailOnline:’ My situation didn’t change at all. I just moved prison. I’m still totally isolated. Since (sic) more than two years now.

‘I’m still not allowed to talk with anybody else then to my lawyer sand to my punishers (guards).’

The 47-year-old stands accused of three rapes and two indecent assaults in cases relating to five women and girls aged between 10 and 80 years old

The 47-year-old stands accused of three rapes and two indecent assaults in cases relating to five women and girls aged between 10 and 80 years old

Madeleine McCann suspect and convicted rapist Christian Brueckner has shamelessly told MailOnline his upcoming sex crimes trial is 'ridiculous'

Madeleine McCann suspect and convicted rapist Christian Brueckner has shamelessly told MailOnline his upcoming sex crimes trial is ‘ridiculous’

Undated handout file photo of Madeleine McCann

Undated handout file photo of Madeleine McCann

Christian Brueckner pictured outside a battered VW campervan just weeks before kidnap of Madeleine McCann

Christian Brueckner pictured outside a battered VW campervan just weeks before kidnap of Madeleine McCann

Madeleine McCann's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, said they welcomed Portuguese authorities declaring Brueckner a formal suspect in her disappearance

Madeleine McCann’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, said they welcomed Portuguese authorities declaring Brueckner a formal suspect in her disappearance

Prosecutors also face a dilemma as two of the rape victims are unidentified but the third victim is known - Irish tour guide Hazel Behan who says she was attacked in 2004 while working in the Algarve

Prosecutors also face a dilemma as two of the rape victims are unidentified but the third victim is known – Irish tour guide Hazel Behan who says she was attacked in 2004 while working in the Algarve

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Brueckner’s lawyer Fuelscher said he was ‘aiming for a full acquittal’ on all of the charges.

He said:’ The hope is for fair trial but my client has been attacked in the media. He will not speak to the hearing other than to say his name but nothing should be drawn from that.

‘What needs to be made clear is that these charges have nothing to do with Madeleine McCann and that now, almost four years since he was named, as the suspect there has been no update from the prosecutors.

‘He has not been charged with anything in relation to the McCann investigation and I haven’t even been given access to the files in that case and I have no idea what the evidence is against him.

‘It is only the public prosecutor’s office that believes they have the right person.’

As part of his defence team, Mr Fuelscher has enlisted three other exports including Philipp Marquort, who is an expert in IT forensics and will be used to help Brueckner with mobile and computer data.

Others in his team include Atilla Aykac, who is an expert in cross examination, and who recently filed for a case to be thrown out after revealing a judge in a trial was having an affair.

Mr Fuelscher warned:’ Some of the prosecution witnesses will have to be prepared for some unpleasant questions.’

The final member of the team is law professor Dennis Bock, who Mr Fuelscher described as ‘simply legally brilliant.’

Among the witnesses will be former pals of Brueckner and ex girlfriends and Hazel’s ex boyfriend is also due to give evidence.



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