Portugal police rule out reopening Madeleine probe

Portuguese authorities said on Thursday they have no new evidence that would give them cause to reopen an inquiry into the 2007 disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

British police reviewing the little girl's disappearance had said on Wednesday they believed she could still be alive five years after she went missing in Praia da Luz and urged their Portuguese counterparts to reopen their search.

"There are no new elements at the moment that would allow for the reopening of the inquiry," Pedro do Carmo, the deputy head of the criminal police department, told AFP.

Portuguese police have received "no formal request for the reopening of the inquiry," he added.

Do Carmo said that a team of investigators would continue "to re-examine elements of the inquiry" in collaboration with British police but added that such a practice was normal and did not constitute a reopening of the probe.

A spokesman for the prosecutor's office confirmed no request to reopen the case had been received.

"As we have always said, the prosecution will only reopen the case if there are new, credible and relevant facts, and not on the basis of hypothesis or speculation," the spokesman added.

A team from Scotland, which has been sifting through a wealth of material relating, said they had identified 195 "investigative opportunities" that could be followed up.

They also released a computer-generated image, created by experts, of how Madeleine might look on approaching what would be her ninth birthday on May 12.

Madeleine's parents Gerry and Kate McCann have never abandoned their high-profile campaign to find their eldest daughter who disappeared on holiday on the Portuguese south coast on May 3, 2007 while her parents were at dinner.

"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 investigative review.

"And we are currently developing material which we believe represents genuinely new information," he told reporters.

Among the 195 potential leads, "some of those are to do with sightings", he said.

Redwood said if they found something "red hot", then pan-European procedures were in place for action.

"Our aspiration is to get this case reopened. My colleagues in Portugal want to reopen the case... they are completely engaged and totally committed," he added.

Redwood's team has been working on material from the Portuguese investigation, enquiries in Britain and the work of private investigators.

He urged the public to come forward with any information.

The British investigation has so far cost around £2 million.

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