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Portuguese police release suspect in missing girl case

Original Source: AZ CENTRAL: 15 MAY 2007
Associated Press May. 15, 2007 10:58 AM
LISBON, Portugal - Police searching for a 4-year-old girl who disappeared during a vacation in southern Portugal released a suspect they had questioned because there was not enough evidence to file charges, an official said Tuesday.

Detectives searched five houses Monday as part of their investigation of the 33-year-old man, identified in media reports as British, and seized some of his belongings, inspector Olegario de Sousa told a news conference. Detectives also questioned two other people in the inquiry into Madeleine McCann's disappearance, he said.

Portugal's national news agency, Lusa, quoted unnamed police sources as saying detectives and forensic experts searched the man's villa Monday, taking away computers and cellular phones, Lusa said. Portuguese media said police drained the villa's pool.

The villa is about 100 yards from the hotel where Madeleine, from central England, was apparently abducted while vacationing with her parents.

The girl vanished May 3 after her parents left her, and her brother and sister, both aged 2, alone while they went to a nearby restaurant within their hotel complex in Portugal's Algarve region, a popular European tourist destination.

Last week, police called off their ground search for Madeleine, whose parents are still at the hotel.

British media have said that promised contributions to a reward fund total some $5.1 million, including reported donations from Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, tycoon Sir Richard Branson and "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell. Also, celebrities including soccer star David Beckham have made public appeals for help in finding Madeleine.

Earlier this week, Gerry McCann said he and his wife Kate had taken strength from the "spiritual outpouring" around the world. They have received messages of support from numerous countries, he said.

Asked how long they would stay in Portugal, Kate McCann said, "I can't even consider going home at the moment, absolutely can't even let it enter my head."


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