THE PRIME suspect in the Madeleine McCann case has been under police investigation for her disappearance for four years, it is reported.

Convicted paedophile Christian B, 44, was last year named by cops as the main suspect after the three-year-old vanished during a family holiday in Praia da Luz, Portugal in 2007.

But German police have actually been investigating Christian B regarding Madeleine's disappearance for four years, reports Sky News.

Last year, Scotland Yard revealed they had a new prime suspect, and appealed for details on his movements or from people he knew.

Although he was not named, it emerged to be Christian B – a prolific burglar, who has previous convictions for sex crimes against young girls.

German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters says authorities had been looking for information on him for a long time previous to that and "had already built up a fact file on him before we asked the public to help us".

"By that time Christian B had been under investigation already for three years. We did not take the decision to go public lightly," Mr Wolters said, reports Sky.

"Since then we have found a lot more pieces of the puzzle, but I cannot reveal what they are.

"We are making progress and have the same number of investigators working on the case, but we don't yet have enough to charge the suspect."

"There is no time limit to our investigation, but we won't keep it going forever."

Christian B was convicted of raping a 72-year-old American woman in the same resort where Madeleine went missing in 2005.

But a year after he was named as a prime suspect, the sex offender has not been charged or quizzed over Madeleine's disappearance.

Peter Kirkham, an ex-Scotland Yard detective chief inspector, said he suspects the investigation was "rapidly drying up" and said it appeared the German cops were "dragging their feet".

Public prosecutors in the city of Braunschweig have maintained it has "strong evidence" he was guilty.

But investigators have refused to say what proof they have. 

German prosecutors have claimed to have evidence Madeleine is dead, but Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry have said they "will never give up hope of finding Madeleine alive."

It comes as ex-pals of Christian B said they fear he will escape justice because German detectives are moving too slow.

One ex-friend, who knew him when he lived on the Algarve, told the Mirror: "I can’t believe it’s been a year and nothing seems to have happened.

"The more we remembered about him and read about his past, the more we believed he was the man responsible for taking Madeleine.

"It’s crazy the German cops haven’t been to see Chris in prison or interviewed him."

Scotland Yard revealed that a 1980s VW T3 Westphalia white campervan has been linked to the suspect, and was seen in Praia da Luz days before she vanished.

Christian B is also believed to have been living in it in the days and weeks before and after Madeleine's disappearance.

A 1993 Jaguar XJR6 has also been connected to the German sex offender, with one of the two vehicles believed to have been used the kidnapping of Madeleine.

They also revealed his phone was in the resort on the night the toddler vanished.

He was convicted in Germany in 1994 of abusing a six-year-old girl in a playground and exposing himself to another child

Then 17-year-old, was handed a two-year juvenile sentence but later moved to Portugal where he set up home in the coastal town of Lago.s and kept his past secret.

Christian B’s lawyer Friedrich Fulscher had said his client “denies any involvement” in the McCann case.

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