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Madeleine McCann possibly spotted in France, family says

  • Story Highlights
  • Madeleine McCann possibly seen at roadside restaurant near Montpellier
  • AP: Police say girl on surveillance tape is not Madeleine
  • Man takes girl from restaurant after Madeleine's name called, spokesman says
  • McCann has been missing since May 3; her parents named official suspects
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(CNN) -- A Dutch tourist says she recently spotted missing 4-year-old Madeleine McCann at a French restaurant near Montpellier, McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said Wednesday.

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A handout photo, released September 16, 2007, of missing child Madeleine McCann.

The tourist said she recognized Madeleine from the many media reports about the child's May 3 disappearance and may have even seen the well-publicized defect in the little girl's eye, Mitchell said.

"She and a friend saw a child that they immediately took to be Madeleine," said Mitchell. "They actually called out her name.

"A man who was with the child scooped the child up and took her out of the cafe before the girls could take a photograph with their mobile phones," he said.

Mitchell said there is a surveillance tape of the girl in the L'Arche restaurant and Madeleine's parents are hoping to be able to use it to determine if it is their missing daughter. Video Mitchell explains how the sighting came about »

But The Associated Press, quoting an unnamed police official, is reporting that investigators have determined it was not the missing child.

Police watched the closed-circuit video footage, and despite the child looking like Madeleine, it was not her, said the official, who did not want his name published because he is not authorized to speak to media about the case.

Madeleine disappeared May 3, days before her fourth birthday. Her parents, who were vacationing with her in Portugal, have said she disappeared from their room at a resort while they dined in a nearby restaurant.

Despite a global search and the attention of celebrities like Virgin Chairman Richard Branson, author J.K. Rowling and soccer star David Beckham, there have been no major breaks in the case.

Portuguese investigators in September named the McCanns official suspects in their daughter's disappearance. The McCanns deny involvement, saying they believe Madeleine may have been abducted by pedophiles and taken to North Africa.

A few months ago, there was a reported sighting of Madeleine in Belgium, but nothing came of that report.

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Last year, excitement grew when a video surfaced of a Moroccan woman carrying a child on her back who looked very similar to Madeleine.

Authorities determined that it was the woman's child. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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