Maddie cops find suspect’s 'secret cellar’
German police have reportedly found a "secret cellar" at the former home of the prime suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
On the third and final day of digging, using sniffer dogs and ground-penetrating radar, police discovered a hidden "cellar" at the site, German newspaper Bild reported.
German police have yet to comment on the reports.
The cellar was discovered as investigators dug a deep hole 15 metres wide in the garden of a secluded holiday chalet outside Hanover.
Earlier this week, police confirmed that they launched a large-scale operation on the site, which is near a trailer where suspect Christian Brueckner lived in between his stints in Portugal.
Brueckner lived "off-grid" near the Hanover allotment being searched by police in the years after the British girl's disappearance in 2007, locals have claimed.
Locals told reporters the convicted sex offender "lounged around drinking beer" and told people he was a "car mechanic" while living in a van.
The find was made on Wednesday afternoon (local time), with the "basement" underneath a house that has since been demolished, reports The Sun.
The tenant of an adjacent plot said the cellar had been at the site for years but was not filled in when its above-ground structure was torn down in 2007 - the same year Madeleine disappeared.
The search of the site is due to continue for another two days, German police confirmed.
Thought to be linked to the huge probe, divers also were spotted by locals searching the River Leine in the nearby town of Seelze.
Police are also said to be searching the Linden branch channel, a nearby canal, German news site Haz.de reported.
As the search continued for a third day, some of the officers taking part in the hunt for clues that might solve one of the world's most infamous crimes appeared exhausted.
British police officers are also taking part in the investigation and have quizzed a garage owner who rented a workspace to Brueckner.
The search at the site began after another allotment holder at the site tipped off police after watching a Crimewatch TV show about unsolved crimes that featured Madeleine's case.
Specialist ground radar and sniffer dogs have been brought in to help the search as police used diggers and shovels to dig up the earth.
Police also removed a huge skip-full of evidence for analysis from the allotment dig site on Wednesday afternoon (local time).
Pictures showed the skip crammed with rubbish including rubble, gravel, a child's bucket and old plates.
On Monday, Julia Meyer, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office in Braunschweig, confirmed police investigators have been at the site since Monday with an excavator in connection with the McCann case.
She said: "The procedure is taking place in connection with our investigation regarding Maddie McCann."
Ms Meyer said she could not give any further details on the procedure, adding only that police would "still need some more time to finish".
Madeleine was three when she disappeared from a holiday apartment at a resort in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in May 2007.
Prosecutors announced last month that convicted paedophile and rapist Christian Brueckner, who is currently in prison for drug offences and the rape of an American woman in Portugal, was the prime suspect in Madeleine's abduction, and said they have concrete evidence the little girl is dead.
MADDIE SUSPECT DROPS BID FOR FREEDOM
The prime suspect in Madeleine's disappearance has dropped his bid to be freed from prison early, as the grounds of his former home were searched.
It came hours after police began to search allotments and tunnels near Brueckner's German home amid the new probe into the British child's disappearance, The Sun reports.
The convicted rapist, 43, applied for early release from a 21 month drugs trafficking sentence eight weeks ago, and was eligible after serving two thirds of his sentence.
His lawyer Friedrich Fulscher had filed the request but told a German press agency on Tuesday evening: ''My client had withdrawn his request".
"He has lost faith in the judicial system.''
It came after evidence bags were believed to have been removed from the Hanover garden today in connection to McCann's disappearance.
Forensic officers and sniffer dogs were seen hunting through the allotment for clues - with a vegetable plot at the centre of the probe.
Brueckner was already due for parole after being given time off for good behaviour from a 21 month sentence imposed by a German court in 2018.
But he has now withdrawn the application for early release and will stay in jail until late January next year. A seven year jail term for the 2005 rape of an elderly American widow in Praia da Luz is due to start then.
CHILD ABUSE IMAGES FOUND IN SUSPECT'S MOBILE HOME
Last month it was revealed that thousands of child abuse images and children's clothing found in a mobile home that Brueckner claimed he used to "transport children".
Police seized the motorhome in May 2016 as part of an investigation into the disappearance of five-year-old Inga Gehricke, according to a documentary by Spiegel TV.
Police reportedly found computer memory sticks with more than 8000 files, mostly containing pictures and videos of child abuse, which were in a carrier bag buried underneath the body of Brueckner's dog, the report said.
Brueckner, who was living near the resort in Portugal where Madeleine vanished, allegedly kept a van that he used to drive across Europe.
The mobile home was purchased in 2010, but the jailed rapist has been a suspect in other disturbing cases.
- with Stephen Drill
Originally published as Maddie cops find suspect's 'secret cellar'