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A fruitless three-day search for evidence of ’s disappearance began this week after authorities found a collection of USB sticks linked to the main suspect filled with child abuse images and buried next to a dead dog in a rubbish dump, it can be revealed. Police in Portugal ended the latest search, the third of its kind around the Arade Dam, 30 miles from where Madeleine was last seen in 2007, on Thursday but authorities gave no details concerning new discoveries. 

Back in 2020, German police announced that, four years previously, they had obtained videos and photos, thought to have been found buried in the paedophile’s “secret lair” in a dilapidated factory site in the German village of Neuwegersleben, 65 miles south-east of Hanover, some of which were of the reservoir, leading them to suspect a third search could yield clues.

This latest search, around a dam roughly 30 miles from the Praia da Luz resort, where the three-year-old girl was last seen 16 years ago, began on Tuesday following a request by German authorities.

A statement by Portugal’s Judiciary Police said some material had been collected and would be handed over to German authorities for examination.

But it is believed that no major discoveries were made over the three days regarding what happened to Madeleine, who would be 20-years-old now.

German police maintain that convicted rapist Christian Brueckner, who lived near the Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz when Madeleine went missing, is responsible for her disappearance but they have not publicly provided evidence to corroborate this belief. 

Their search this week was based on clues the German authorities discovered in 2016 while investigating the disappearance of five-year-old Inga Gehricke, who was last seen while on an outing with her family in 2015.

More than 100 officers took part in that search. They used dogs, diggers, and underground radar equipment to scour the land.

No body was found in the search, but they made another grim discovery. Police claimed they found 8,000 pieces of potential evidence, including a cache of child abuse images on USB sticks that were found under a pile of animal bones.

Brueckner was prosecuted in relation to the images. Police then started their latest search of the reservoir after finding a clue in Brueckner’s lair that they hoped could crack open the case.

READ MORE: Madeleine police ‘searching reservoir for Winnie the Pooh pyjamas’ [REVEAL] 

Portuguese media said this was the fourth police search for Madeleine following the initial one in 2007 in the southern Algarve area and further efforts in 2013 and 2014. Another search was held in Germany in 2020.

The reservoir is less than half full because of a drought affecting Portugal and neighbouring Spain. The search would’ve been below the water line under normal rainfall.

Brueckner is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence in Germany for raping a 72-year-old woman in Portugal in 2005.

He is under investigation on suspicion of murder in the McCann case but hasn’t been charged. He spent many years in Portugal, including in Praia da Luz, around the time of Madeleine’s disappearance.