Friday May 4, 2007

The father of missing three-year-old Madeleine McCann made a fresh emotional plea for help in tracing his daughter.

Following criticism of aspects of how the case had been handled he also expressed the family’s thanks to the police for their efforts.

Appearing before a bank of cameras and a crowd of reporters Gerald McCann stood arm in arm with his wife Kate who was again clutching a pink teddy bear as she was earlier when the family were first seen in public following the disappearance which police are now treating as an abduction.

Dr McCann said: “First of all we would like to thank everyone here in Portugal, the UK and elsewhere for all your support during this extremely difficult time for our family.

“We are pleased that the family liaison officers from Leicestershire are now working closely with the Portuguese police in keeping us informed.

“We have no further information regarding the investigation but appreciate the significant effort everyone is making on our behalf.

“We would again like to appeal for any information, however small, that may lead to the safe return of Madeleine.

“Finally we would like to thank the media for respecting our privacy especially that of Madeleine’s little brother and sister.”

Detectives in the Algarve earlier said they are hunting a “suspect” after evidence appeared to rule out the possibility that Madeleine had gone missing by herself.

While Portugal’s Judicial Police – the equivalent of Britain’s CID – refused to give precise details of who they are hunting, they revealed that they believed Madeleine was still alive. Hundreds of tourists, British expats and Portuguese residents joined a search for her.

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