Madeleine McCann’s sister speaks publicly for first time since her disappearance 16 years ago

Madeleine McCann’s sister has spoken publicly for the first time since her sibling’s disappearance 16 years ago.

At a vigil marking the anniversary, Amelie, now aged 18, said: “It’s nice that everyone is here together but it’s a sad occasion.”

The informal prayer meeting, attended by about 70 people, took place in the family’s home village of Rothley in Leicestershire on Wednesday evening. Parents Kate and Gerry McCann took part, although Sean, Amelie’s twin brother, did not.

They wrote: “Today marks the 16th anniversary of Madeleine’s abduction.

“Still missing .. still very much missed. It is hard to find the words to convey how we feel.”

Amelie, accompanied by a friend, joined in repeating mantras read out by people in the crowd including “Never never give up”, “leave no stone unturned”, “don’t forget about me” and “still missing, still missed.”

Gerry and Kate also shared a poem titled The Contradiction by Clare Pollard which they said “resonates strongly” with them.

It contains the lines:

The absence contradicts itself.

The missing conjures what we miss.

You are not here, I’m not myself,

But still I talk to you like this.

Rob Gladstone, leading prayers at the event, told supporters: “We are here this evening to show our loving concern for Madeleine and for all young children who have been taken away from their families against their will.

“We are also here to encourage one another to keep up hope and pray for a renewal of strength even after this long time.”

The parents added: “The police investigation continues, and we await a breakthrough. Thank you to everyone for your support- it really helps.”

A rape charge against suspect Christian Brueckner was dropped

It comes after a rape charge against the main suspect in the McCann investigation was dropped after a German court said it did not have jurisdiction over the case.

Christian Brueckner was due to go on trial for an alleged rape in Portugal but a court in the city of Braunschweig threw out the case, Bild newspaper reported. The rape allegation is not linked to Madeleine’s case.

The court’s decision means that legal authorities in Braunschweig have no jurisdiction over Madeleine’s case, who disappeared in Portugal in 2007 aged three, lawyer Friedrich Fuelscher said.

Bruckner spent many years in Portugal, including in the resort of Praia da Luz around the time of Madeleine’s disappearance there in 2007. He has denied any involvement in her disappearance.

Madeleine disappeared in Praia da Luz, Portugal in 2007

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