Portugal reopens case of missing British girl

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LISBON, Portugal -- More than six years after British girl Madeleine McCann vanished from her bedroom during a family vacation in Portugal and five years after Portuguese police gave up trying to find her, authorities reopened the case Thursday, citing new evidence.

Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, had long campaigned from their central England home for the Portuguese investigation to resume. In a statement Thursday, they said they were "very pleased" at the development.

"We hope that this will finally lead to [Madeleine] being found and to the discovery of whoever is responsible for this crime," Kate and Gerry McCann said. The couple, both doctors, continue to care for Madeleine's younger siblings, twins Sean and Amelie.

Madeleine went missing shortly before her fourth birthday. Her disappearance sparked global interest as pictures of her and her grieving parents beamed around the world. Her parents briefly met with Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Square in June 2007, a month after Madeleine disappeared, and the pontiff held a picture of their daughter.

Then, in a stunning twist, Portuguese police briefly considered the parents suspects before they were cleared and returned home.

Portuguese police closed the case in 2008 because authorities had detected no crime. But a team of detectives from Porto, in northern Portugal, began reviewing the evidence in March 2011. They had not been involved in the original investigation.

The public prosecutor's office in Lisbon said it decided to reopen the investigation after new leads emerged during the case review. It did not elaborate. The case is subject to Portugal's judicial secrecy law, which forbids release of information about investigations.

Madeleine disappeared from her family's resort apartment in Praia da Luz, a coastal town 120 miles south of Lisbon, while her parents and their friends were eating dinner nearby.



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