The prime suspect in the Madeleine McCann case is attempting to exploit a legal loophole to get out of prison, prosecutors say.

Christian Brueckner is currently behind bars after being convicted of horrifically raping a 72-year-old woman in Portugal in 2005.

Brueckner will now find out in three weeks if he is likely to be released through a the complex legal loophole.

Lawyers for Brueckner appeared before a panel of five judges at the European Court of Justice, arguing that his detention is a breach of international law.

They claim because this was not the crime he was extradited for from Portugal in June 2017 he should be freed.

Bruecker's appeal case has gone to the European Court of Justice

But prosecutors insisted Christian Brueckner should remain behind bars saying because he left Germany for a “holiday” he broke the law before being arrested.

Felix Halabi, representing the German authorities, told the European Court: “He flouted the rules. He did not abide by the rules - he left and travelled to Italy.

“So he renounced his protection.

“The suspect made the most of open European borders - now he wants us to read the law in such a way it gets turned on its head and provide him an advantage in a court.”

Brueckner's lawyers said it was unfair he was in prison and he should be released because he was being held under an “unconstitutional” reading of the law.

It is a complicated technical issue and the judges - led by President Michail Vilaras - will release their views on the legal situation on 6th August.

Madeleine McCann vanished aged three in Praia de Luz

But Mr Halabi, representing the German authorities, said Bruecker was simply trying to cleverly exploit a loophole in the law.

He said: “Freedom of movement is of great benefit to people.

“The European Arrest Warrant is of great benefit to people all over Europe.

“This is a great achievement for Europe to make prosecutions more successful.”

In Luxembourg today a panel of five judges at the ECJ heard arguments on the complex legal issue.

The Ocean Club in Praia Da Luz in the Algarve, Portugal, where Madeleine McCann went missing

Brueckner's lawyer Friedrich Fulscher argued that it was a breach of European law to put him on trial for rape.

He claimed because this was not the crime he was extradited for from Portugal in June 2017 he should be freed.

He insisted that Brueckner’s seven year sentence for brutally attacking an American pensioner in Praia da Luz in 2005 should now be overturned.

Representatives of the Irish government also took part in the case held in the main ECJ courthouse via video conference.

Last month 43-year-old Brueckner was named as the prime suspect in the disappearance of three-year-old Maddie from Praia da Luz in 2007.

Mobile phone data showed he was in the Portuguese village at the time she vanished.

When he was held German police used a European Arrest Warrant to extradite Brueckner back to Germany over child molestation charges.

Brueckner, who did not appear in court today, was not allowed to watch by video conference.