A German prosecutor played down hopes of an imminent breakthrough in the 16-year-old hunt for missing British girl Madeleine McCann on Thursday, as some police appeared to be scaling down their search of a reservoir in Portugal.
German authorities, who have named a suspect in the case, have been helping Portuguese crews comb the remote area inland from the Algarve coastal resort where McCann – then aged three – went missing during a family holiday in 2007.
“Of course there is a certain expectation, but it is not high,” prosecutor Christian Wolters told Reuters. It was important to show that authorities were investigating the case, he added.
German prosecutors last year named Christian Brueckner an official suspect in McCann’s disappearance. The convicted child abuser and drug dealer is behind bars in Germany for raping a 72-year-old woman in the same part of the Algarve.
Brueckner has denied any involvement in the disappearance. No body has been found.
“Of course we are still looking for the body,” Wolters said. “We’re not just looking for that, of course. There are other things too.” The search which started on Tuesday had no fixed schedule and could continue on Friday, he added.
Any discovery of clothing could help the investigation, he said. “A lot is conceivable.”
Witnesses said British police who assisted their Portuguese and German counterparts at the reservoir had left by early Thursday afternoon and German investigators were packing up their tents at a camp on a hill.
A tractor-mounted tree-cutter deployed earlier has also been removed.
Portuguese police running the command centre declined to comment.