UK police issue images of man in Madeleine McCann case
British detectives investigating the 2007 disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Portugal on Monday published two new electronic images of a man they want to contact, in a major appeal which will also be shown in Germany and the Netherlands.
Police said the man is of “vital importance”, with the images having been drawn up based on descriptions from two witnesses who saw the man in the area of Praia da Luz town the night Madeleine went missing.
A primetime British television programme will also present a fresh timeline of events surrounding Madeleine’s disappearance from her family’s holiday apartment in the Portuguese resort just a few days before her fourth birthday.
The witnesses described the man in the e-fit as being white, aged between 20-40 years old, with short brown hair, of medium build, medium height and clean shaven. One image shows him with a fuller jaw than the other.
Portuguese authorities closed their investigation in 2008, but London’s Metropolitan Police spent two years reviewing the evidence and opened their own probe in July this year.
“Whilst this man may or may not be the key to unlocking this investigation, tracing and speaking to him is of vital importance to us,” said Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, Scotland Yard’s senior investigating officer in the case.
“We have witnesses placing him in the resort area around the time of Madeleine’s disappearance.”
Further e-fits of other people they want to trace who were “seen on the day of Madeleine’s disappearance and the days leading up to it” will also be released, Redwood said.
The German television programme “Aktenzeichen XY” on the public broadcaster ZDF will show the e-fits on Wednesday.
Two of the suspects are German-speaking, according to the German tabloid Bild and the British newspaper The Times.
Praia da Luz is a “popular holiday destination for many nationalities”, Redwood said, adding that he would be travelling to the Netherlands, Germany and Ireland “to seek the support of the public there.”
The BBC Crimewatch show on Monday night will include a new 25-minute reconstruction as well as live interviews with Madeleine’s parents Gerry and Kate McCann, who launched a global media campaign to find their daughter and still hold out hope she is alive.
Ahead of the broadcast the McCanns told the BBC of the pain they still feel.
“When it’s a special occasion, when you should be at your happiest, and Madeleine’s not there, that’s when it really hits home,” Gerry McCann said.
“Obviously, Madeleine’s birthday goes without saying.”
Kate McCann added: “It’s when you have big family occasions really. That’s it, isn’t it? ‘Family occasion’ and you haven’t got your complete family.”
Police said at the weekend that the timeline around the incident had also significantly changed, with further details to be released during the show.
Redwood said detectives were focused on the time between 8:30 pm on May 3, 2007, when Kate and Gerry McCann left the apartment to dine at a nearby tapas restaurant with friends, to when Kate McCann found Madeleine was missing at 10:00pm.
Last week, British police said analysis of mobile phone data from thousands of people who were in Praia da Luz when Madeleine disappeared could provide a new lead.
The detectives have interviewed 442 people over the last couple of years and have identified 41 potential suspects, although no arrests have been made.
Last week the McCanns said they were “greatly encouraged by new information coming to light” and said they hoped the BBC appeal would take them closer to find Madeleine.