Madeleine McCann investigators 'find secret cellar' during search of allotment in Germany

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·3-min read
Germany police officers search an allotment garden plot in Seelze: AP
Germany police officers search an allotment garden plot in Seelze: AP

Police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have reportedly found a hidden cellar at the German allotment where the prime suspect allegedly lived in 2007.

Investigators in Germany have been searching a garden plot on the outskirts of Hannover for three days in connection with the 13-year-old case.

The British three-year-old went missing from a hotel room in Portugal in 2007 and last month German authorities revealed that they had identified a 43-year-old citizen as a suspect in the case.

Named as Christian B, the suspect is currently in prison in Germany. It is believed he lived on the allotment near Hannover the same year Madeleine went missing.

Germany police officers remove a container during a search at an allotment garden plot in Seelze (AP)
Germany police officers remove a container during a search at an allotment garden plot in Seelze (AP)

Police are using excavators, sniffer dogs, shovels and rakes to investigate the area of land.

Officers put up two tents and continued to dig even further into the ground after they had cut down trees and bushes earlier this week.

A spokeswoman for the Braunschweig prosecutor's office confirmed the investigation on the site was connected to their inquiry regarding Madeleine.

But prosecutors did not say what exactly the investigators were looking for.

At the garden plot, officers removed parts of the foundation of a former cabin from the ground that once stood there.

Germany police officers search with dogs an allotment garden plot in Seelze (AP)
Germany police officers search with dogs an allotment garden plot in Seelze (AP)

According to local newspaper HAZ, they have discovered and searched a cellar underneath the old structure.

Wolfgang Kossack, 73, who owns the plot next to what is alleged to be Christian B's former allotment, told MailOnline that the suspect had lived off-grid at the site in 2007 and talked about planning his return to southern Europe.

Mr Kossack said he only realised the connection to Christian B this week when police started digging up the allotment.

He told the newspaper: "I remembered his face from the pictures in the news. And I remember his van and his dogs. I had completely forgotten about him up until then."

Mr Kossack said: "[He] had the garden next to mine. He arrived in 2007 and left within a year. He told me that he was living off the grid, that he had not registered with the authorities – no one knew he was there.

"He never did any gardening. He did not plant anything or try to grow anything. He just sat around drinking beer."

German police stand during a search in a garden allotment in the northern German city of Hanover (AFP via Getty Images)
German police stand during a search in a garden allotment in the northern German city of Hanover (AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Kossack described the "small wooden structure" in the garden, saying: "The building was not really a house, you might call it a shed. But it had a cellar and underneath there would be foundations. This building was destroyed in 2008."

Madeleine was three at the time of her 2007 disappearance from an apartment while her family was on holiday in the seaside town of Praia da Luz in Portugal's Algarve region.

Police revealed in June 2020 that they were investigating a 43-year-old German man over the 2007 disappearance of three-year-old
Police revealed in June 2020 that they were investigating a 43-year-old German man over the 2007 disappearance of three-year-old

Christian B - who is currently in jail in northern Germany - is suspected of killing her the same year that he is said to have lived in the allotment.

Mr Kossack, who has tended his own segment of land since 2006, said Christian B disappeared in 2008 and he never saw him again.

Christian B was last registered as living in Germany in the city of Braunschweig, which is about 40 miles from Hannover.

Between 2013 and 2015, the suspect spent time in both Portugal and Germany.

He spent many years in Portugal, including in Praia da Luz around the time of Madeleine's disappearance, and has two previous convictions for "sexual contact with girls", authorities have said.

He ran a kiosk in Braunschweig and also lived in Hannover for several years, the dpa agency reported.

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