British and Spanish reporters claim they have found the girl in the photograph who some believed might have been Madeleine McCann. London’s Evening Standard says the girl is actually a 5-year-old from the village of Zinat in Morocco, the BBC reports.
On Wednesday, the case of the missing girl seemed to have re-energized after Spanish police passed on to Interpol a photograph of a girl taken in Morocco by Spanish tourists, who suspected the child could be McCann.
However, Rashid Razaq, a reporter for the Standard, flew to Morocco and said he’s seen the girl in the picture – and she is not McCann. “She has got a resemblance to Madeleine but when you see her properly, it is obvious it isn’t her,” he told the BBC.
He said the girl is actually Bushra Binhisa, the daughter of an olive farmer.
A spokesman for the McCann family says that if the reports turn out to be true, they will be disappointed. McCann 4, disappeared from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia Da Luz, Portugal, while her parents were out dining at a nearby restaurant.
When news about the photo surfaced, McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said the parents were being careful. “I have to urge caution,” he told Reuters. “The correct people – the police – with all of their technical prowess are now looking at this material.”
He added, “There have been lots of different sightings over the last few months, all of which – no matter how well intentioned – have come to nothing. You can imagine the emotional ups and downs that that causes Gerry and Kate, so they’re simply not getting into commenting at every stage.”
Despite a global search for the little girl, no trace of McCann has been found.
The case also took a startling twist earlier this month when Portuguese police named Kate and Gerry McCann official suspects in their daughter’s disappearance.
The focus on the parents came after forensic tests allegedly revealed traces of the child’s blood in a car the McCanns rented 25 days after their daughter’s disappearance.
Despite the suspicions, the McCanns – who are both doctors – have repeatedly maintained their innocence and the belief that Madeleine could still be alive.
The France-based Interpol (as the International Criminal Police Organization is called) had confirmed to PEOPLE that it received a “number of photographs from members of the public of potential Madeleine sightings, including the picture taken in Morocco by a Spanish couple.”
Its representative added, “All of these photos have been forwarded to the Portuguese police, who are leading the investigation.”
• Reporting by SARA HAMMEL
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