This is one of the few global campaigns launched to find a missing child. Her image has come to represent the many abducted children, who has yet to be found.
If the face of Helen of Troy launch a thousand ships, then Madeline McCann's image has launched a thousand campaigns to find abducted children.
Madeleine McCann disappeared on the evening of Thursday, 3 May 2007, in the resort of Praia de Luz in thegarve, Portugal, just days short of her fourth birthday. The British girl was on holiday with her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, and siblings when she disappeared from an apartment in the central area of the resort. Madeleine's parents have said that they left her unsupervised in a ground floor bedroom with her two-year-old twin siblings while they ate at a restaurant about 120 metres away.
Her disappearance captured the attention for much of 2007, leading to pleas from well known figures, large aid donations and many accusations and sightings.
The initial investigation by the Policia Judiciaria (Portuguese criminal investigation police) concluded that she had been abducted. After further investigation, they subsequently stated that there was a strong hypothesis that she might have died in her room. During the investigation there were a number of unconfirmed claimed sightings of Madeleine in Portugal and elsewhere and additional scientific evidence was obtained.
Kate was interviewed on 7 September and was formally declared a suspect by the Portuguese police. After questioning, Kate was released from the police station just before 16:00 without being charged. Gerry was interviewed at the same police station during the afternoon and evening of 7 September and afterwards Pinto de Abreu announced that Gerry had also been named as a formal suspect. Before she became a suspect Kate said "The police don't want a murder in Portugal and all the publicity about them not having paedophile laws here, so they're blaming us," and Gerry said "We are being absolutely stitched up." Pinto de Abreu said that claims by relatives that police had offered Kate a plea bargain if she admitted to accidentally killing her child were wrong and the result of "a misunderstanding".
In early February 2008, Alípio Ribeiro, the national director of the PJ, said that there "perhaps should have been another assessment" before the McCanns were declared suspects.
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