Madeleine's father returns to Portugal to continue search

Madeleine's father returns to Portugal to continue searchLisbon - Gerry McCann, the father of missing British toddler Madeleine, has returned to Portugal one-and-a-half years after her disappearance to continue the search for his daughter.

McCann, 40, told Portuguese journalists late Tuesday he returned to speak to his legal team and to develop new strategies to rekindle the search for Madeleine.

He said that he hoped to find his daughter until her birthday in May. McCann came to Portugal for the first time since returning to Britain in September 2007.

"It is the first visit to Portugal, but I hope it[0xb4]s the first of many over the coming months," McCann told the Portuguese news agency Lusa. "The aim is to see what can still be done in the search for Madeleine."

Madeleine "Maddie" McCann, then aged almost four, disappeared on May 3, 2007, from the family's apartment at an upscale holiday resort in Praia da Luz, while her parents were dining with friends.

Portuguese authorities shelved investigations in July 2008, saying that they found no culprit responsible for the girl's disappearance.

McCann and his wife, Kate, both doctors, insist that they believe their daughter is still alive and will continue to search for her

Portuguese police had for some time suspected them of involvement in the disappearance. Police also dropped accusations against a third suspect, a British businessman living close to the holiday resort.

"Gerry is not interested in procedures. He wants to continue to search as a father, and that is well within his rights," Rogerio Alves, McCann's Portuguese lawyer, said Tuesday.

McCann asked the British embassy in Lisbon for assistance and was planning to leave the country again on Wednesday.

Family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said Maddie's parents were planning a series of events in Portugal "so that the people won't forget Madeleine."

People from all across the world donated about 1 million dollars to the family following an unprecedented media campaign after Maddie's disappearance. (dpa)