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Madeleine McCann probe reopens in Portugal

Kate and Gerry McCann pose with an artist's impression of how their missing daughter Madeleine might look now, at a press conference in central London on May 2, 2012
Kate and Gerry McCann pose with an artist's impression of how their missing daughter Madeleine might look now, at a press conference in central London on May 2, 2012

Portuguese authorities said Thursday they are reopening their probe into the disappearance of British girl Madeleine McCann from a beach resort in 2007.

"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," it said in a statement.

The Correio da Manha newspaper had reported that a police team was sent to review the high-profile case last year with a focus on the possibility of a kidnapping by an organised paedophile network.

Maddie vanished from the holiday apartment where her parents were staying in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz just days before her fourth birthday in May 2007, while they were dining at a nearby tapas bar.

Portuguese authorities closed their investigation into her disappearance in 2008, but Scotland Yard spent two years reviewing it at the British government's request and opened their own probe in July this year.

Media in Praia da Luz, southern Portugal on May 9, 2007 outside the building from where Madelaine McCann disappeared
Media in Praia da Luz, southern Portugal on May 9, 2007 outside the building from where Madelaine McCann disappeared

The McCanns have never abandoned their campaign to find their daughter, who they believe was kidnapped and is still alive.

The discovery last week of a young blonde girl in a Roma camp in Greece has resurrected the issue of child kidnapping in Europe once again, and had "given hope" to Madeleine's parents, their spokesman said.

British detectives investigating the Maddie case last week published two new electronic images of a man they want to contact in a major new appeal also shown in Germany and the Netherlands.

The man was described as white, aged between 20 and 40, with short brown hair, of medium build, medium height and clean shaven.

Police also want to identify two other men, probably with short blond hair and possibly speaking German or Dutch, who had also been seen repeatedly near the apartment.

The British detectives said they had received 2,400 calls and emails since the television appeal, while several hundred calls were also received by the German and Dutch shows.

Images obtained on October 14, 2013 from the Metropolitan Police show a man detectives want to contact in connection with the 2007 disappearance of Madeleine McCann
Images obtained on October 14, 2013 from London's Metropolitan Police show two electronic e-fits of a man detectives want to contact in connection with the 2007 disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Praia da Luz, Portugal

Detective chief inspector Andy Redwood, who is leading the British investigation, said witnesses had spotted a man carrying a young child fitting Madeleine's description towards the port area of Praia da Luz.

Another man seen carrying a child near to the apartments where the family were staying -- who was for years considered the chief suspect -- has been excluded from the investigation.

They have said they were "greatly encouraged by new information coming to light" and that they hoped the appeal would take them closer to find Maddie.

Earlier this month, British police said analysis of mobile phone data from thousands of people who were in the south coast resort of 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 -- 15 of them British nationals -- although no arrests have been made.

The McCanns are suing a Portuguese detective who wrote a book about the case in which he argues that Madeleine was accidentally killed and implicates the couple.

They are seeking the equivalent of £1 milion (1.2 million euros, $1.6 million) and have tried unsuccessfully to ban the book.

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