The best friend of Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner dramatically claimed last night: “I know he did it.”
Michael Tatschl lived with the German paedophile in Praia da Luz, where Madeleine vanished.
He said: “He was a pervert and more than capable of snatching a child for sexual kicks or money.”
We can reveal that Austrian drifter Mr Tatschl was grilled last year by German and Austrian police investigating Madeleine’s disappearance.
He reportedly told them how his pal bragged about burgling rich tourists’ holiday apartments.
He claimed: “He was always bragging about money and making money. He even talked about selling kids, maybe to Morocco.
“I think he probably sold Maddie to someone. Maybe a sex ring. I was living with him at the time. He was my best friend. I know he did it.”
Mr Tatschl claimed that Brueckner was obsessed with the dark web and suspects he used it to deal in pornography and drugs. He also claimed Brueckner had a secret spot in his home in Praia da Lux where he kept stolen loot.
Mr Tatschl’s name emerged last week after Portuguese authorities granted access to Brueckner’s court records.
They showed Brueckner was locked up on remand with Mr Tatschl after they were caught stealing diesel from lorries.
Mr Tatschl, a dad of one who is now back in his native Austria, said he expects an arrest is “imminent” in Madeleine’s case.
In his first ever media interview, he described Brueckner as a “strange character”.
He said: “He was definitely a pervert. All his friends thought that about him. He had some sexual issues. I really hope they can finally close this case for the family and find Christian guilty for what he has done. He needs to admit it to the police.”
Brueckner befriended Mr Tatschl in late 2005. Mr Tatschl began living with him in early 2006 at his farmhouse in Praia da Luz, Algarve, which Brueckner shared with his German girlfriend.
Mr Tatschl said: “I was staying at his house and camping in a van in the garden. We spent a lot of time together and had good fun. He did not take drugs at the time but liked to have a drink.”
Mr Tatschl claimed that Brueckner bragged about regularly robbing holiday flats.
He alleged: “He was a very good burglar and would easily climb up to first-floor apartments when tourists were out. He would steal money, valuables and passports. He had a hiding place in his house, in the roof. He had the money and passports hidden up there.”
He added: “Christian was always on the dark web. I don’t know exactly what he did but I suspect it involved drugs and pornography.” Mr Tatschl said he was “sucked in” to Brueckner’s life of crime.
In April 2006, the pair were caught by police stealing diesel from two lorries in Portimao, Algarve. They spent over eight months on remand in jail awaiting trial.
Mr Tatschl claimed that while they were in jail, Brueckner got a pal to clear his home of the alleged stolen loot.
He claimed: “He ordered a friend to get rid of any evidence of burglaries or robberies. But this guy and another friend ended up robbing the house and took all the valuables and money.
“They also got a video camera from the house, which was how I found out he was a sick b*****d. On that camera was a video of him raping an old woman.
It was of this elderly lady who was chained to a wooden post and she was being beaten and raped.”
It is not believed that the woman in the video was the American pensioner Brueckner was later convicted of raping and is currently serving jail time for in Germany.
After Brueckner’s release from prison, he stayed in Praia da Luz, living in the VW Westfalia van that police later seized.
Mr Tatschl said: “I think that confused the police as they were not sure where he was living exactly when Maddie vanished. But he had his van and was living free.”
Mr Tatschl moved to the hippy enclave of Orgiva in Andalusia, Spain, in April 2007, weeks before Madeleine, three, vanished on May 3.
He said Brueckner turned up in “late May or early June” driving a Tiffin Allegro winnebago. It was in this vehicle that police found a stash of girls’ swimming costumes in 2016.
Brueckner also allegedly bragged he could hide “drugs and children” inside the 30ft-long van.
Mr Tatschl said: “He parked it up in Orgiva and came looking for me.
“We all wondered where he’d got the money from? It was a big expensive thing. We assumed it was from a big drug deal or something like that. Now I suspect it was Maddie.
“He was only there for a couple of days and went on back to Germany.”
Mr Tatschl lost touch with Brueckner and returned to his native Austria several years ago to start a family.
It was while watching last year’s Netflix series The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann that he became convinced his friend was responsible.
He claimed: “When I saw the documentary I knew immediately that he was guilty. The part where the female tourist talked about the creepy guy with acne and blonde hair, I just knew it was Christian for sure.”
Within weeks of the series airing, German and Austrian police knocked on Mr Tatschl’s door. He was interviewed by detectives over two days in April 2019.
He said: “They were very clear. They said, ‘We are investigating Maddie McCann and Christian Brueckner’.
“I was convinced it was him. I spent 14 hours talking about my time with Christian and what I knew about him.”
“I was sure it was him the minute the police came to find me.”
Asked why he did not contact police himself, he replied: “Perhaps I should have, but I don’t like the police very much.”