TV show sparks German leads in Maddie search

A German broadcaster said on Thursday it received more than 500 tip-offs after airing a programme on Wednesday night on the 2007 disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann.

TV show sparks German leads in Maddie search
Photo: DPA

Her parents Kate and Gerry McCann gave an emotional appeal to the German public on ZDF’s Aktenzeichen XY… ungelöst programme as they continue their search for their daughter who disappeared on Portugal’s south coast.

Maddie went missing from a holiday apartment in the resort of Praia da Luz on May 3rd 2007, just days before her fourth birthday while her parents were in a nearby tapas bar.

The programme was watched by 7.26 million people – its best viewing figures in 15 years – and just a few hours later, its broadcaster ZDF reported it had received around 500 phone calls and emails.

“After the broadcast of… Aktenzeichen XY, the number of tip-offs rose to more than 500,” said a spokesman for ZDF but he warned that it was still unclear how much of the information would prove useful.

Even before the programme was aired, ZDF reported it had received 20 pieces of evidence by phone as a result of publicity surrounding the broadcast in the German media.

Appeals in Britain and the Netherlands earlier this week also generated an encouraging reaction with the BBC’s Crimewatch and Dutch crime programme Opsporing Verzocht receiving over 1,000 pieces of evidence in total, the Hamburger Abendblatt reported.

“If you know anything, please please be brave and get in contact. We need your help,” Kate McCann told German viewers on Wednesday night. Her husband Gerry stressed: “There is no evidence that Madeleine is dead.”

Photofit images were shown of two young men suspected of involvement in the kidnapping. They were spotted repeatedly near the family’s apartment in the Portuguese holiday resort shortly before Madeleine’s disappearance.

They are believed to be German or Dutch speakers, probably with short blond hair.

Another man, who was seen with a child in his arms walking in the direction of the beach is the subject of particular suspicion from British police headquarters, Scotland Yard.

Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, who also appeared on the programme as part of the fresh appeal, described the man as white, aged between 20 and 40, with short brown hair, of medium build, medium height and clean shaven.

Maddie disappeared from a holiday apartment in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007, just days before her fourth birthday while the parents were in a nearby tapas bar.

Speaking to Aktenzeichen XY… ungelöst’s presenter Rudi Cerne, the McCanns gave an insight into what they have gone through since Madeleine disappeared.

“We miss her every day”, said Gerry McCann. “It is always difficult to understand that something so catastrophic, something so incomprehensible happened to our daughter”.

READ MORE: Madeleine McCann trail leads to Germany

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