LISBON, Portugal – One of Portugal's most senior detectives is taking charge of the investigation into the disappearance of British girl Madeleine McCann, officials said Tuesday.
Paulo Rebelo, a senior criminal investigation coordinator at national police headquarters in Lisbon, was appointed to the McCann case late Monday after a meeting of police chiefs, a spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity in accordance with police policy.
Rebelo was expected to move to southern Portugal, where the girl vanished May 3, and start work within days, she said.
He has worked on several high-profile investigations in recent years, including sensational allegations that a child sex ring operated at a state-run children's home.
Authorities last week removed the detective previously overseeing the investigation after he criticized British police in comments to a Portuguese newspaper. Goncalo Amaral claimed British detectives cooperating in the investigation were being misled by the girl's parents, who are suspects in the case.
Madeleine McCann disappeared a few days before her 4th birthday during a family vacation in Portugal's Algarve vacation region.
After initially focusing on the possibility that she was abducted from her hotel room, police switched their focus to her parents when forensic tests conducted at a government laboratory in Britain found evidence that DNA from Madeleine was in the trunk of a rental car the parents used after her disappearance.
Police placed parents Kate and Gerry McCann, doctors who have since returned to their home in central England, under investigation. However, Portugal's national police chief, Alipio Ribeiro, said the forensic tests on the car were not conclusive and he expected the investigation to continue.
Kate and Gerry McCann say they were not involved in their daughter's disappearance and have run an international campaign to find their daughter. They have said they are prepared to return to Portugal for further police questioning, if necessary.
The only other formal suspect in Madeleine's disappearance is Robert Murat, a British man who lived near the hotel from which she vanished. He also has denied involvement.