Portugal refuses to reopen Madeleine probe

Portuguese police have refused to reopen the inquiry into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

Portugal refuses to reopen Madeleine probe

Portuguese police have refused to reopen the inquiry into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

The decision came after Scotland Yard urged authorities to resume their investigation and released a new “age-progressed” image showing what she might look like as a nine-year-old.

While British detectives believe Madeleine could still be alive, officers in Portugal insist there is no evidence to warrant relaunching the search.

And despite the Metropolitan Police’s announcement that detectives have identified 195 potential leads, Portuguese police sources said the status of their investigation had not changed.

Next week will mark five years since Madeleine went missing from her family’s Algarve holiday flat as her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, dined nearby.

There have been hundreds of possible sightings of the little girl since she vanished, aged three, but each one has come to nothing.

The Portuguese refusal to re-examine her disappearance came shortly after family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said the McCanns were “hugely encouraged” by the recent momentum in the case.

Mrs McCann was said to be “particularly pleased” with the new image of Madeleine, believing it had a strong family resemblance.

Referring to the 195 potential new leads, Mr Mitchell told BBC Breakfast: “Kate and Gerry welcome this and they are hugely encouraged by what the police have been doing all of this last year since the launch of the investigative review.

“They (Scotland Yard) believe that it is quite possible that Madeleine could still be alive and that is what Kate and Gerry have said throughout the five years and they are hugely encouraged by all of this momentum in the case.”

He said that, like the British police, Mr and Mrs McCann want the case to be reopened.

But he added such a move was “up to the Portuguese authorities”.

Mr Mitchell said: “They are very pleased that the new age-progressed image of Madeleine aged nine was put out yesterday, which is getting wide publicity today. Of course, that is the girl that people should still be looking for.

“We need to remind people around the world that this is probably what Madeleine looks like today, not the very famous picture of her when she went missing. This is Madeleine as a young girl now.

“Kate particularly feels there is a very strong family resemblance. She sees Madeleine, Sean and Amelie, her brother and sister, and herself in the image.”

Yesterday, Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said he believed the child’s disappearance was a stranger abduction.

But police refused to say what evidence they had uncovered to suggest Madeleine was alive.

Mr Redwood confirmed that his team of more than 30 officers involved in the case had been to Portugal seven times, including a visit to the family’s holiday flat in Praia da Luz.

An investigative review was launched last year after a meeting between former Met commissioner Paul Stephenson and the British Home Office.

Detectives in Portugal are also understood to want the case reopened but to do so they must gain judicial approval via the courts.

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