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Madeleine McCann disappeared from her bedroom on May 3 2007 during a family holiday in the Algarve in Portugal while her parents were dining with friends nearby in the resort of Praia da Luz. British and German police appealed on Wednesday for information about a German child sex offender currently imprisoned in Germany. He was 30 at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Clarence Mitchell, a spokesman for the family, said: “The police themselves are calling this a significant part of the investigation.
“It’s the first time in more than 13 years that I can recall them focusing on one individual, not named, but clearly identifiable by them and the authorities.
“In terms of wanting to know extra detail about his movements, the vehicles he was using down to the phone calls he was apparently receiving on the night Madeleine went missing.
“Kate and Gerry do feel it’s very significant.”
Mr Mitchell added: “The police and the private investigators that were brought in by the family that just two or three people maximum on the planet know what happened to Madeleine.
“In this case, the police have spoken about a particular phone call that I understand this man received from someone else on a Portuguese number.
“The German police and the British police don’t believe the person making the call is a suspect but they are still a material witness to this and that’s why they’ve released those Portuguese numbers in the hope it will jog someone’s memory.
“The distinctive vehicles, a camper van and a black jaguar car the man is said to have been using, it’s 13 years on but the police still feel it’s important to bring these details out now in the hope that somebody out there could still come forward.”
Police want to speak to anyone who has relevant information on a 43-year old man, whom they did not name, or the movements of two vehicles linked to him during the period around the girl’s disappearance.
Both cars, a Volkswagen camper van, and a Jaguar are now in the possession of German police.
The suspect, German police said, lived in the Algarve between 1995 and 2007 – and for several years in a house near Praia da Luz – and burgled hotels and holiday flats as well as trading drugs.
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German police said the man has been “sentenced on numerous occasions to prison terms for sexual abuse of children in the past.”
Mr Mitchell added: “Kate and Gerry do feel it’s potentially very significant.
“They’ve never given up hope that she may still be found alive but they are realistic.”
“Whatever the outcome of this particular line of investigation maybe, they do need to know what happened to their daughter to find peace and to bring whoever is responsible to justice.”
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