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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 January 2008, 12:41 GMT
Madeleine 'suspect' images issued
Sketches of suspect released by family of Madeleine McCann
Sketches of the man the McCanns believe may have abducted Madeleine

The family of Madeleine McCann has released sketches of a man they believe may have abducted the four-year-old.

An artist drew two likenesses of the man from a witness statement made by a holidaymaker who stayed in the same Portuguese resort as the McCanns.

Madeleine vanished on 3 May 2007, while on holiday on the Algarve.

One picture shows a man with long hair, bushy eyebrows and a moustache. Another image shows him walking in a light jacket and blue trousers.

We want to know who he is and we want to know where he is
Clarence Mitchell, McCanns' spokesman

Family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said the description came from British holidaymaker Gail Cooper, who was staying with her family 600 yards from the McCann's apartment in Praia da Luz at the same time.

He said she rang Portuguese police when she saw Madeleine, of Rothley, Leicestershire, was missing and gave a statement reporting a "creepy man" she had seen in the area.

Mr Mitchell said: "We want to know who he is and we want to know where he is. We want to know that as soon as we can. We are asking for people's help today.

Sketches of suspect released by family of Madeleine McCann
The McCann family spokesman appealed for more information

"If he isn't connected with Madeleine's abduction, at the very least he now needs to come forward himself so that he can be eliminated from both the police and the private investigations that are under way into Madeleine's disappearance."

Mr Mitchell said the sketches made by an FBI-accredited police artist had only recently been commissioned from the McCann's private investigation into the disappearance of their daughter.

He said Mrs Cooper, from Newark, Nottinghamshire, "of course gave this information about the man and his activities to the police back in May.

"That information has been with the police since then, however, no sketch of the man has actually been commissioned or done until now."

'Nervous'

Ms Cooper said she saw the man walking by himself in heavy rain on the beach near the resort on 20 April last year. She said he drew attention to himself because he was the only man on "the otherwise deserted beach".

She said later that afternoon she believed the same man visited Ms Cooper at the resort while her eight-year-old granddaughter was playing near the pool.

She described the man as "agitated, nervous" and that he may have been of North African descent. The man claimed he was collecting for an orphanage at a nearby village.

He flashed some sort of ID which she believed was fake, Mr Mitchell said, and she told him to leave.

Mr Mitchell said there were "similarities" between the images released on Sunday and other artist's sketches released last year.

These showed a man with dark, greasy collar-length hair and wearing a purple or maroon top with beige trousers, carrying a child, which were made after a testimony from Jane Tanner, a friend of the McCanns.

Madeleine's parents Gerry and Kate McCann remain official suspects in the case, but have always denied any involvement in her disappearance.

Briton Robert Murat is also a suspect in the case. A judge is considering whether to extend the period of judicial secrecy covering police evidence against Mr Murat, who also denies any involvement.

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