Madeleine McCann suspect may be linked to murder of German girl found dead on beach in Belgium, it is claimed

Phoebe Southworth
Carola Titze

The prime suspect in the Madeleine McCann case may be linked to the murder of a German girl who was found dead on a beach in Belgium, it is claimed.

Carola Titze, 16, was on holiday with her parents in the municipality of De Haan in the summer of 1996 when she disappeared on July 5.

She went out on a walk towards the beach in the morning but never returned, and her severely mutilated body was found in sand dunes on July 11.

The public prosecutor's office in West Flanders, Bruges, have confirmed they are investigating whether 43-year-old Christian Brückner could be involved, according to local newspaper reports.

Carola is reported to have been in contact with a German man in the days before her murder and the pair were allegedly seen together at a disco.

The development comes after prosecutors re-opened the probe into the disappearance of German five-year-old Inga Gehricke, who vanished during a family outing in Saxony-Anhalt on May 2, 2015.

The father of six-year-old René Hasee, who vanished on June 21, 1996 while on holiday with his family in Aljezur, 25 miles from Praia da Luz, has also claimed police are re-opening his son's case.

Mr Hasee reportedly told the German newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger that "there could be a connection" between his son's disappearance and that of Madeleine in Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007.

Police in Germany and Belgium are yet to comment on whether Carola's death is being linked to the Madeleine investigation.