Madeleine's siblings want her home for Christmas

LONDON Mon Dec 17, 2007 9:40am GMT

Kate (R) and Gerry McCann, the parents of missing British girl Madeleine McCann, leave the Catholic Church of Sacred Heart with their children in Rothley, September 23, 2007. Madeleine McCann's younger siblings hope Santa Claus will bring their missing sister home for Christmas, their parents said in an interview on Sunday. REUTERS/Darren Staples

Kate (R) and Gerry McCann, the parents of missing British girl Madeleine McCann, leave the Catholic Church of Sacred Heart with their children in Rothley, September 23, 2007. Madeleine McCann's younger siblings hope Santa Claus will bring their missing sister home for Christmas, their parents said in an interview on Sunday.

Credit: Reuters/Darren Staples

LONDON (Reuters) - Madeleine McCann's younger siblings hope Santa Claus will bring their missing sister home for Christmas, their parents said in an interview on Sunday.

Gerry and Kate McCann said they had bought presents for their daughter and would try to make Christmas as normal as possible for their toddler twins, Sean and Amelie.

"They both seem to understand they will be getting presents from Santa, but have also asked if Santa will be bringing Madeleine home, which just about broke our hearts," the McCanns were quoted as saying in the Sunday Mirror.

In a statement, the McCann's said their first Christmas without their missing daughter would be "incredibly difficult".

Gerry and Kate McCann, named by police as formal suspects in the case, also renewed appeals for information to help find their daughter, who disappeared on holiday in Portugal.

"Christmas 2007 will be an incredibly difficult time for us if Madeleine is not found before then," they said in the statement. "We plan to have a very quiet, private Christmas with family in the UK.

"We would like to thank everyone who has supported us over the last seven months and ask you to stay with us as the search for our daughter continues."

Their daughter disappeared shortly before her fourth birthday during a family holiday in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz.

The McCanns believe she was abducted from their holiday apartment as they had dinner with friends at a nearby restaurant.

They hired private investigators to help find their daughter after police named them as suspects in September. The only other suspect is a Briton living in Praia da Luz.

Despite a string of possible sightings and a huge police investigation, the girl's whereabouts remains a mystery.

British and Portuguese forensic scientists met last month to discuss DNA evidence in the case.