MONTPELLIER, France – A child pictured on video footage studied by French police for signs that she is the missing British girl Madeleine McCann does not appear to be held against her will, but the tape is of poor quality, a police official said Thursday.
"These tapes are not very usable. Nothing can guarantee the result" of even a close study, according to the official who saw the close-circuit tape. The official, not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, spoke on condition of anonymity.
A Dutch teen told a Dutch newspaper that she believed she saw McCann alive at a highway restaurant near the southern city of Montpellier on Feb. 15.
But after an initial viewing of video from the restaurant, French police said Wednesday they believed that a young girl who resembled the British girl was not McCann.
"Nothing appears to show that the child was under constraint," the police official said.
Montpellier Prosecutor Jean Philippe said the tapes could be turned over Friday to British authorities, which must make a specific demand, something that had not been done by late Thursday afternoon, he added in an interview with The Associated Press.
An initial police reaction to the video left them doubtful of any link to the young British girl, a police official said earlier.
Dutch newspaper De Gelderlander interviewed Melissa Firing, 18, who said she was sure the girl she saw was McCann because of the way she reacted when she called out her name, and because she was able to look her in the eyes.
An adult man accompanying the child took her and left the restaurant quickly afterward, Firing told the newspaper.
McCann has been missing since May 3, when she disappeared during a family vacation in Praia da Luz in Portugal's Algarve region. There have been numerous alleged sightings, but none has turned up the girl.