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Portugal: No plans yet to reopen missing girl case

Portuguese police have not yet found any new evidence to merit reopening the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, a senior police official said Thursday.

The comments from deputy national police chief Pedro do Carmo came a day after U.K. police urged Portugal to reopen the case of the missing British girl, who vanished during a family vacation in southern Portugal in May 2007 shortly before her fourth birthday.

Do Carmo did not definitively rule out ever reopening the case. But he told The Associated Press that detectives currently sifting through evidence gathered during the initial investigation have yet to find a reason to do so.

"So far, no new element has been found that might provide the basis for a reopening of the investigation" into the girl's disappearance, he said.

Madeleine's disappearance drew worldwide attention and brought reports of alleged sightings as far away as Africa and Asia, but after investigation those reports proved false. Portuguese police closed the case in 2008 after failing to find out what happened to Madeleine.

British police said Wednesday they had reviewed the case and identified almost 200 possible leads to follow up. They said they would like Portugal to reopen the case but stressed that it was ultimately a Portugese decision.

Do Carmo refused to comment on the British police's request, but said any new leads had to be "credible" for police to ask the Public Prosecutor to reopen the case. He declined to elaborate.

The Portuguese detectives are liaising with British police, but the Portuguese operation is "independent" and "autonomous," Do Carmo said.

British Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said Wednesday in London he is leading a team of 37 police officers reviewing some 40,000 pieces of evidence gathered so far.

Redwood said he has traveled seven times to Portugal and has had regular contact with the missing girl's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, who have campaigned to keep the search going. British police say their investigation has so far cost about 2 million pounds ($3.2 million).

Portugal's attorney general ordered police to halt their investigation in August 2008 because detectives had uncovered no evidence of a crime.