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Portugal reopens missing child case

LISBON — More than six years after British girl Madeleine McCann vanished from her bedroom during a family vacation in Portugal and five years after Portuguese police gave up trying to find her, authorities reopened the case Thursday, citing new evidence.

Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, had long campaigned from their home in central England for the Portuguese investigation to resume. In a statement Thursday, they said they were ‘‘very pleased’’ at the development.

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‘‘We hope that this will finally lead to [Madeleine] being found and to the discovery of whoever is responsible for this crime,’’ the statement said. The couple, both doctors, have two other children, twins Sean and Amelie.

Madeleine went missing shortly before her fourth birthday. Her disappearance sparked global interest as pictures of her and her grieving parents beamed around the world. Her parents briefly met with Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square in June 2007, a month after Madeleine disappeared, and the pontiff held a picture of their daughter.

Then, in a stunning twist, Portuguese police briefly considered the parents suspects before they were cleared and returned home.

Portuguese police closed the case in 2008 because authorities had detected no crime. However, a team of detectives from Porto, in northern Portugal, began reviewing the evidence in March 2011. They had not been involved in the original investigation.

The prosecutor’s office in Lisbon said it decided to reopen the case after new leads emerged during the review. It did not elaborate. The case is subject to Portugal’s judicial secrecy law, which forbids the release of information about investigations.

British police, meanwhile, launched Operation Grange in 2011 to try to find out what happened to Madeleine. British detectives have been sifting through the case files in Portugal and say they also have identified new avenues of investigation.

Madeleine disappeared from her family’s resort apartment in Praia da Luz, a town 120 miles south of Lisbon. British detectives say it’s possible she is still alive.

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