Sixteen years after the mysterious disappearance of Madeleine McCann, the German, English and Portuguese authorities are carrying out new excavations. These operations, launched this Tuesday, May 23 near a dam in southern Portugal, aim to advance the investigation which has been skating for several years already.

Helped by a tracker dog and a local fire boat, several policemen surveyed the parched banks of the Arade reservoir, located in the municipality of Silves, in the hinterland of the tourist region of the Algarve. found journalists from Agence France-Presse.

The German public prosecutor’s office in charge of the case has confirmed that operations “are underway in Portugal” in connection with this case, which constitutes one of the biggest criminal enigmas of recent years. These are new “researches” carried out with the support of the German judicial police, the Brunswick prosecutor’s office (northern Germany) told AFP.

The previous evening, the Portuguese judicial police had announced that “new excavations” would “be carried out in the coming days, at the request of the German authorities” and “in the presence of the English authorities”. “Proceedings continue for a full clarification of the situation” around the disappearance of little “Maddie”, in May 2007, while spending holidays with her family in the seaside resort of Praia da Luz, said the police of the Iberian country in a press release.

“Sixteen years later, I very much doubt they’ll find anything!” AndrĂ© Calado, 25, an employee of a hotel in a small village near the Arade dam, told AFP. At the excavation site, which was cordoned off by a security perimeter, the authorities had set up a logistics base made up of white and blue tents overlooking the body of water surrounded by wooded hills.

The gendarmes were monitoring access to the paths surrounding the Arade dam, built in the 1950s to irrigate agricultural land in the region, stormed Tuesday morning by journalists. The area, located about fifty kilometers from Praia da Luz, had already been searched in 2008, including by divers who had found only remains of animals there, according to local media.

Last year, the Portuguese public prosecutor’s office decided to indict a new suspect, as part of its cooperation with the English and German authorities. This is the German Christian Brueckner, a repeat pedophile who lived for several years in the Algarve and who, according to the Portuguese media, regularly visited the Arade dam.

The man, who is serving a prison sentence for the 2005 rape of a 72-year-old American woman in Portugal, was identified by German investigators in 2020 as the main suspect in the murder of the British girl.

Madeleine McCann, then almost four years old, disappeared from her room at the resort in Praia da Luz, a small seaside resort in the Algarve region, on May 3, 2007, while her parents were having dinner with friends in a neighboring restaurant.

Her disappearance had given rise to an exceptional international campaign led by her parents to try to find her. Photos of little Maddie, with her light brown hair and large clear eyes, had then gone around the world.

After 14 months of controversial investigations, marked in particular by the indictment, then the exoneration, of the parents, the Portuguese justice had closed the case in 2008, before reopening the file five years later because of the appearance of “new elements”. After spending two years studying the case, the UK officially opened its own investigation in July 2013. The Portuguese authorities reopened the case soon after.

However, the case then did not see any real progress until June 2020, when the Brunswick prosecutor’s office said it was certain that the girl was dead and that the main suspect was then in detention in the north of the country. Germany for another matter.