Maddie suspect could get off lightly if convicted
Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner could serve just 15 years behind bars if he was ever tried and convicted of her murder.
If the case was held in the UK then a guilty verdict would result in a mandatory life sentence, but German law now bans the extradition of suspects to Britain for criminal trials.
Brueckner will therefore stand trial in Germany - if the federal police are able to gather enough evidence to charge him, that is.
A murder charge in Germany attracts a jail sentence of 25 years but is suspended after just 15 years, meaning that Brueckner would walk free after almost the same length of time that Maddie McCann has now been missing.
Extradition is possible within the EU, but Brexit means it will no longer be possible to extradite someone to the UK.
But after Brexit it means that a murder suspect could not be extradited to the UK.
On Saturday, Maddie's parents Kate and Gerry McCann suffered another setback when Hans Christian Wolters of the Braunschweig Public Prosecutor's Office said "What we have is not enough for an arrest warrant or an indictment," referring to Brueckner.
It has been revealed police were first tipped off he was probably involved in Madeleine's disappearance as far back as 2013 - but the information was never passed on to British cops.
Barmaid Lenta Johlitz, 34, said a group of people were sitting around the bar talking about Madeleine when Brueckner became distraught.
"Once he was completely freaked out when we were sitting talking with friends about the Madeleine case. He wanted us to stop," Ms Johlitz said.
"He cried out, 'The child is dead now and that's a good thing', then he said: 'You can make a body disappear quickly. Pigs also eat human flesh'."
Brueckner is suspected of snatching Madeleine from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in May 2007 - and has been linked to the disappearances of at least two other children.
A school caretaker in his hometown of Braunschweig, northern Germany, told how Brueckner showered pupils with toys and teddy bears as they walked past his shop in the morning.
"I'd ask where they got them from and they'd say, 'Christian at the kiosk'," Peter Edrmann said.
"It turns my stomach now to think of his intentions. I wish I had raised what was going on with my bosses at the time."
Brueckner, 43, regularly used the kiosk for drink and drug parties, triggering complaints from the neighbours about the noise.
One local, who gave his name as Norbert, recalled "strangle marks" on the neck of his former girlfriend who helped run the shop, The Sun reported.
The pair lived in a nearby apartment and Norbert said: "He was often aggressive, very bad with women.
"He had a girlfriend from Kosovo. He always beat her. Once I even saw her with strangle marks on her neck."
Brueckner is being held in a prison in Kiel, north Germany, where he is serving 15 months for drug trafficking. Asked about the Madeleine case, public prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters said: "There is not enough evidence for a warrant or indictment against him."
But Mr Wolters added: "We assume there are other victims."
Meanwhile, a British woman has told of her scary close encounter with Brueckner.
Angie Dawes said he visited her parents' house when he worked at a nearby restaurant.
"I met him at my parents' house. Even though he was polite, on every occasion he was weird," she said.
"He was memorable to look at. The blond hair with striking blue eyes.
"But he would just stare at me in a sleazy way for a minute or two without saying a word and not release his gaze.
"It was bizarre and made me feel very uncomfortable. His eyes chilled me to the bone.
"It's absolutely horrible to be associated with him. He even tracked me down on Facebook. I can't even think about it now without breaking down.
"He would send messages asking me about my family."
Originally published as Maddie suspect could get off lightly if convicted