Madeleine McCann could still be alive: UK police
British police reviewing the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, the girl who vanished in 2007 in Portugal, said Wednesday they genuinely believed she could still be alive.
The Scotland Yard team sifting through a wealth of material in the case said they had so far identified 195 “investigative opportunities” that could be followed up.
They also urged the Portuguese judiciary to allow the case to be reopened, saying the Portuguese police also wanted to re-start the search.
Scotland Yard renewed their appeal for information as they released a computer-aged image of how Madeleine might look as she approaches what would be her ninth birthday on May 12.
Madeleine, who was almost four at the time, disappeared from the family’s holiday flat in Praia da Luz on the Portuguese south coast on May 3, 2007.
“We genuinely believe there is a possibility that she is alive,” said Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood from Scotland Yard’s Homicide and Serious Crime Command, who is leading the review.
“And we are currently developing material which we believe represents genuinely new information,” he told reporters.
“From the outset we have approached this review with a completely open mind, placing Madeleine McCann at the heart of everything we do.
“We are working on the basis of two possibilities here. One is that Madeleine is still alive; and the second that she is sadly dead.”
He said the investigative review, launched last year, was a quarter of the way through its work.
Redwood said that at a conservative estimate, the 37-strong review team had around 40,000 pieces of evidence containing around 100,000 pages, some of which need time-consuming translation.
Investigations showed what appeared to be “gaps” in the forensic timeline, indicating there were opportunities for Madeleine to be snatched.
The team has been working on material from the Portuguese investigation, enquiries in Britain and the work of private investigators.
Redwood urged the public to come forward with any information they might have about Madeleine, and for anyone who was staying in Praia da Luz between April 28 and May 3, 2007 to make themselves known, if they have not yet spoken to the Portuguese or British police.
The British investigation has cost around £2 million ($3.2 million, 2.4 million euros) so far.
Madeleine’s parents Gerry and Kate McCann have never abandoned their high-profile campaign to find their eldest daughter.
They are “encouraged” by the review, their spokesman Clarence Mitchell told reporters.
“They have drawn great strength from this whole process. They feel that, finally, a proper investigative procedure is now being applied to the search,” he said.
“A hundred and ninety-five potential leads, five years on, is still quite substantial and it only takes one of those to be the key to unlocking this.
“The answer lies somewhere in all of that mountain of information.
“It feels like there still is momentum in the case. They (the McCanns) want the case reopened and it was very encouraging to hear that the police in both countries want that as well.”