More than six years after Madeleine McCann vanished from the Portuguese town of Praia da Luz, her parents have said they refuse to give up hope on finding their daughter alive. Speaking ahead of a fresh Crimewatch appeal, Kate and Gerry McCann said that they will not accept Madeleine is dead until they "see clear evidence".
The BBC programme, which will air next Monday, will feature the "latest and most detailed understanding" yet produced of events back in May 2007, and it is hoped the reconstruction will bring new witnesses to the case. The Metropolitan Police recently revealed a log of mobile phone traffic surrounding the 3-year-old's disappearance, which they believe could be the key to finding out what happened to the child.
Speaking on ITV, Gerry McCann said: "We've always had hope. There have been a number of cases over the last few years of children and young women being found after having been taken and held for very long periods of time. As parents we won't accept Madeleine is dead until we see clear evidence that that is the case."
He added: "We are very pleased with the work of the Metropolitan Police and we're confident that the appeals will hopefully lead to new information and bring us a step closer to finding Madeleine and those responsible for taking her. We're optimistic that new pieces will be uncovered which will fill in parts of the jigsaw."
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Scotland Yard detectives, who have interviewed 442 people as part of their review-turned-investigation into Madeleine's disappearance, hope to track down as many people present in Praia da Luz on or around May 3 2007 as possible.
On Monday, Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said it was vital that the public focused on new facts rather than speculation. "Just to be clear, we are focused on the appeal on Crimewatch next week which we hope will produce new witnesses," he said.
"It is clearly too early to speculate about where this will lead. It remains vital for us, and the success of the appeal, that the public are focused on new facts that can be released by the investigative team rather than speculation. I am impressed by what (senior investigating officer) Detective Chief Inspector (Andy) Redwood and his team have achieved but a conclusion is not imminent, there is much ground to cover and we still need assistance - hence the appeal next week."
Announcing the appeal, Redwood said police now have the "most complete picture to date" of the events surrounding Madeleine's disappearance. A three-year-old actress will play the youngster in the Crimewatch reconstruction, as a small production team from the programme spent a week filming abroad for the new appeal.
Crimewatch presenter Kirsty Young speaks to the McCanns in the new programme, while presenter Matthew Amroliwala has been to Praia da Luz to explore the new focus of the police investigation. The McCanns and Redwood will also be speaking to Young live in the studio.
Scotland Yard has revealed that since launching its own investigation, 41 people of interest have been identified, including 15 UK nationals, up from 38 people of interest including 12 UK nationals established in July. Detectives have issued 31 international letters of request (ILOR) to mostly European countries in relation to some of the persons of interest as well as accessing phone records.
A large but "manageable" list of phone numbers identified as being present in Praia da Luz - though not necessarily used to make phone calls - has been drawn up by detectives with a "significant" number unattributed to any named person. And significantly, police officers are now able to create a log showing calls being made at the time of Madeleine's disappearance. The latest appeal will also be broadcast in Holland and Germany.
Madeleine went missing from a holiday apartment as her parents dined at a nearby tapas restaurant with friends. The Portuguese investigation officially closed but authorities there are backing the Scotland Yard inquiry and officers from both countries will work together in pursuing new leads.
The Metropolitan Police now has a team of six Portuguese detectives based in Faro who are carrying out inquiries on its behalf. The McCanns are suing former police chief Goncalo Amaral for libel over claims in the book The Truth Of The Lie.
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