May 14, 2007 / 6:43 AM / 12 years ago

Briton quizzed over Madeleine abduction

LISBON (Reuters) - Portuguese police on Monday searched a villa up the road from where four-year-old British girl Madeleine McCann was snatched and took a British man to a police station for questioning, local television reported.

Posters indicating the reward for missing British girl Madelaine McCann is seen at a bus station in the Portuguese beach resort of Lagos May 14, 2007. REUTERS/Hugo Correia

Local broadcaster SIC Noticias said a member of the family at the villa often spoke to reporters and had said Madeleine looked like his daughter in England.

Police sealed the villa for forensic tests, SIC Noticias said. The man is said to have helped Portuguese police and had acted as a translator.

The search took place as the parents of the girl kidnapped 11 days ago said they remained positive their daughter was safe and vowed to keep up the search for her.

“Until there is concrete evidence to the contrary, we believe that Madeleine is safe and being looked after and that is how we can continue in our efforts,’ said Gerry McCann in a statement read to reporters on Monday.

“We can’t even consider returning home at the moment, I absolutely can’t even let it enter my head,” his wife, Kate, said when asked when she was considering going home.

The McCanns praised the Portuguese police for their work and thanked people for the widespread support they had received.

Celebrity donations have pushed up the reward offered for Madeleine’s safe return to 2.6 million pounds.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling, tycoons Sir Philip Green and Sir Richard Branson, Wayne Rooney and Simon Cowell have all contributed and a special fighting fund is being set up.

It was the first time Kate McCann had answered questions from the media since Madeleine was snatched from her bed on May 3 in a popular resort in the Algarve in southern Portugal, just yards from where her parents were dining in a nearby restaurant.

On Sunday Portugal’s leading investigator, Olegario Sousa, said some potential leads had been eliminated, but there have been no arrests in connection with Madeleine’s abduction.

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