A recent move by Portuguese police could mean a development has been made in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann — a case that has stirred worldwide interest since the toddler vanished 16 years ago.
Madeleine disappeared from her bed at a holiday resort where she was staying with her family in the Algarve, Portugal, in 2007. Her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, left her asleep with two smaller siblings while they had dinner at a nearby restaurant, and said they checked frequently on the children.
Despite maintaining that their young daughter had been kidnapped, the couple were soon named suspects by Portuguese police, who believed they had staged an abduction and concealed her body, and became the victims of much online scrutiny.
Portuguese police apologise to the McCanns
After remaining under suspicion for the following several years, Portuguese police travelled to the UK earlier this year to apologise to Madeleine’s parents for how the initial investigation was handled and the treatment they received from police, the BBC reports.
It’s understood a group of senior officers flew from Lisbon to London earlier this year and met with Gerry. Portuguese police told the publication they admit that at the time there was insufficient importance given to cases of missing children, and that officers did not appreciate what the foreign parents were facing.
They also told the BBC they have briefed the McCanns on the current status of their ongoing investigation.
Apology a 'good sign', German police say
British, Portuguese and German police are still piecing together what happened on the night the toddler vanished. It’s understood Portuguese police support German authorities, who have announced they believe 46-year-old German man Christian Brueckner killed Madeleine.
Brueckner, who is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence in Germany for raping a 72-year-old woman in Portugal in 2005, has denied any involvement and has yet to be charged.
However, the apology to the McCanns could mean a development has been made, Hans Christian Wolters, a German prosecutor assigned to the case, told the BBC.
“It’s a good sign,” he said. “It shows that, in Portugal, there’s development in the McCann case.” Wolters said German detectives hope to have their investigation into Brueckner completed by next year.
Portuguese police renew search
In May this year, Portuguese police renewed the search for Madeleine, with officers and their German and British colleagues digging and scraping the surface of land near a dam close to where she went missing.
About 20 officers with rakes and hoe-like tools spread out in a line and began poking and raking the soil close to the Arade dam, which is located about 50 kilometres from the resort of Praia da Luz, where the three-year-old girl was last seen.
Police also used a drone to scan the area from above and searched with sniffer dogs on both sides of the dam. Firefighters also carried out searches on the reservoir in a dinghy.
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