Portugal reopens probe into disappearance of British girl in 2007

This undated image released on Sunday, Oct 13, 2013, by the London Metropolitan Police, shows missing British girl Madeleine McCann before she went missing from a Portuguese holiday complex on Thursday, May 3, 2007. The Portuguese police are reo
This undated image released on Sunday, Oct 13, 2013, by the London Metropolitan Police, shows missing British girl Madeleine McCann before she went missing from a Portuguese holiday complex on Thursday, May 3, 2007. The Portuguese police are reopening their probe into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann from a beach resort in 2007, the attorney-general's office announced on Thursday, Oct 24, 2013. -- FILE PHOTO: AP

LISBON (AFP) - The Portuguese police are reopening their probe into the disappearance of British girl Madeleine McCann from a beach resort in 2007, the attorney-general's office announced on Thursday.

"The attorney-general's office has decided to reopen the inquiry into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann following a request by police due to new elements," it said in a statement.

The Correio da Manha newspaper had reported that the authorities were considering relaunching the investigation, saying a team was sent to review the case last year with a focus on the possibility of a kidnapping by an organised paedophile network.

Maddie vanished from the holiday apartment where her parents were staying in the resort of Praia da Luz just days before her fourth birthday in May 2007, while they were dining at a nearby tapas bar.

The Portuguese authorities closed their investigation into her disappearance in 2008, but Scotland Yard spent two years reviewing it at the British government's request and opened their own probe in July this year.

The discovery last week of a young blonde girl in a Roma camp in Greece has resurrected the issue of child kidnapping in Europe once again, and had "given hope" to Madeleine's parents, their spokesman said.

British detectives investigating the Maddie case last week published two new electronic images of a man they want to contact in a major new appeal also shown in Germany and the Netherlands.

The man was described as white, aged between 20 and 40, with short brown hair, of medium build, medium height and clean shaven.

Police also want to identify two other men, probably with short blond hair and possibly speaking German or Dutch, who had also been seen repeatedly near the apartment.

The British detectives said they had received 2,400 calls and e-mail messages since the television appeal, while several hundred calls were also received by the German and Dutch shows.

Detective chief inspector Andy Redwood, who is leading the British investigation, said witnesses had spotted a man carrying a young child fitting Madeleine's description towards the port area of Praia da Luz.

Another man seen carrying a child near to the apartments where the family were staying - who was for years considered the chief suspect - has been excluded from the investigation.