A man identified as Christian Brueckner, at the time of his arrest in 2018, under an international warrant for drug trafficking, on charges of other crimes. Credit: (Carabinieri via AP, File)

A man who is a suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann went on trial on Friday over several unrelated sexual offences.

Christian Brueckner, 47, is alleged to have committed the offences in Portugal between 2000 and 2017.

The trial was quickly adjourned until next Friday after it was claimed that a lay judge on the panel hearing the case once called for the assassination of former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, according to the Associated Press.

Brueckner’s lawyer, Friedrich Fulscher, filed a challenge against the lay judge, with prosecutors also joining that challenge.

Prosecutors have also cited the lay judge’s previous work as a child psychologist as a source of bias which would impede in the continuation of a fair trial, according to German media reports.

Outside the courtroom, Fulscher said: “Such a lay judge has no business participating in a fair criminal trial”.

Brueckner was set to face charges alleging that at an unspecified time between 2000 and 2006, he had tied up and raped an elderly woman in her holiday home in Portugal.

During the same time period, he is alleged to have tied a German-speaking girl aged at least 14 to a wooden post in the living room of his residence in Praia da Luz, allegedly beating her with a whip and forcing her to perform oral sex.

In June 2004, the defendant allegedly gained access at night to the apartment of an Irish woman then aged 20 in Praia da Rocha before raping her, tying her to a table and whipping her.

In separate cases in 2007 and 2017, he is accused of exposing himself to girls aged 10 and 11.

The trial that was supposed to take place today was the first time he had been seen in public since he was linked to the disappearance of Madeline McCann.

He spent many years in Portugal, including in the resort of Praia da Luz around the time of Madeleine’s disappearance there in 2007. He has denied any involvement in her disappearance.

Brueckner is serving a seven-year prison sentence in Germany after being convicted of rape back in 2005.

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