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Portuguese police reopen case on missing Madeleine McCann

The parents of missing girl Madeleine McCann have said they are "very pleased" Portuguese police have reopened the investigation into their daughter’s disappearance. The British toddler vanished in May 2007.

The publishing of computer-generated images by British detectives last week revived hopes the fate of Madeleine could perhaps become known. Portuguese police dropped their case in 2008, but a British team resumed investigations in July and has uncovered several new leads.

After both teams met in Lisbon last week, Portuguese police announced on Thursday they would be reopening their own investigation. "The attorney general's office has decided to reopen the inquiry into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann following a request by police due to new elements," Lisbon's public prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The news drew a response from Madeleine's parents Gerry and Kate McCann, who were at one stage considered suspects by Portuguese police.

"We hope that this will finally lead to her being found and to the discovery of whoever is responsible for this crime," the McCanns said in a statement on Thursday.

"We once again urge any member of the public who may have information relating to Madeleine's abduction to contact the police in Portugal or the UK. Please be patient and respect the work of the police as they endeavor to find the answers we so desperately need."

Then aged three, Madeleine disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in the Algarve village of Praia da Luz in May 2007. Her parents were eating dinner at a nearby restaurant.

New leads emerge

As well as publishing the images of a man with whom they wish to speak, British investigators also want to identify two other men - possibly speaking Dutch or German - who had been seen near the apartment.

British detectives have interviewed 442 people over the last several years and have identified 41 potential suspects, although no arrests have been made.

"We and the Policia Judiciara have a shared determination to do everything possible to discover what happened to Madeleine," said Mark Rowley, Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Crime and Operations at London Metropolitan Police.

"This new momentum is encouraging, but we still have a way to go, and as with all major investigations, not all lines of enquiry that look promising will yield results.”

ph/rc (AFP, dpa, AP)