x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

British police believe Madeleine McCann could still be alive

Scotland Yard is sifting through a wealth of material in the case and officers said they had, to date, identified 195 "investigative opportunities" that could be followed up.

Madeleine McCann when she was three-years-old, left, and an image of how police believe Madeleine would look today, aged nine.
Madeleine McCann when she was three-years-old, left, and an image of how police believe Madeleine would look today, aged nine.

LONDON // British police reviewing the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, the girl who vanished in 2007 in Portugal, said yesterday they believed she could still be alive.

The Scotland Yard team is sifting through a wealth of material in the case and officers said they had, to date, identified 195 "investigative opportunities" that could be followed up.

They also urged the Portuguese judiciary to allow the case to be reopened, and said the Portuguese police also wanted to restart the search.

Scotland Yard renewed its appeal for information as it 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 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.

"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.

Mr Redwood said 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, inquiries in Britain and the work of private investigators.

Mr 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 about £2 million (Dh11.8m) so far.