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LONDON - Kate and Gerry McCann released new pictures of a possible suspect in the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine overnight, nearly nine months after she disappeared in Portugal.

The artist's impression was drawn on the basis of a holidaymaker's account given to investigators in the last few days of a "strange" man seen in the resort of Praia da Luz, from where the youngster went missing.

Gail Cooper, from Nottinghamshire, who was on holiday in the same complex as the McCann family, reported the man to police after Madeleine went missing last May.

Now, the McCann's own investigative team has produced the sketch - the second artist's impression of a man the McCanns say is behind their daughter's abduction.

Madeleine disappeared shortly before her fourth birthday from the bedroom of the family's holiday apartment.

Portuguese police have named Kate and Gerry as formal suspects in Madeleine's disappearance. The girl is said to have been abducted while her parents ate dinner with friends at a nearby restaurant.

Despite a string of possible sightings and a huge police investigation, the girl's whereabouts remain a mystery.

Cooper said she saw the man walking on an otherwise deserted beach amid heavy rain on April 20 - 13 days before Madeleine went missing.

The man came to her villa later that same day, flashed an identity card and said he was collecting money for a local orphanage.

"The man himself was nervous, agitated," the McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell told reporters at a London news conference on Sunday.

"He is described as unpleasant by Mrs Cooper, sallow-skinned and scruffy.

"Mrs Cooper was very apprehensive, she felt very strange about him immediately. She believed him to be a conman, demanding money," Mitchell said.

Two days later, on April 22, the man was seen near a group of children on a beach outing - the same outing that Madeleine went on a few days later.

The man is described as white with olive-coloured skin, of slim build, 1.69m to 1.77m tall, with dark, straggly hair and in his late 30s or early 40s. He was wearing light-coloured clothes.

He spoke heavily-accented broken English and is believed to be North African or Spanish.

Mitchell said there were "many similarities" between the latest sketch and another compiled on the basis of an account from Jane Tanner, one of a number of friends dining with the McCanns the night their daughter disappeared.

Tanner says she saw a man carrying a child wearing pyjamas walking away from the holiday complex that night.

- REUTERS