Madeleine McCann's sister speaks publicly for first time on anniversary of disappearance

madeleine mccann's sister speaks for first time on anniversary
Maddy's sister speaks out for first time at vigilMELANIE MAPS - Getty Images

Madeleine McCann's sister has spoken publicly for the first time at a vigil marking the 16th anniversary of her disappearance.

Amelie McCann – who was just two years old when Madeleine went missing but is now 18 – told loved ones who'd gathered to remember her sister: "It’s nice that everyone is here together, but it’s a sad occasion."

Madeleine was three years old when she disappeared from a holiday apartment in Portugal's Praia da Luz on 3 May, 2007. Amelie and her twin, Sean McCann, had been sleeping in the same apartment at the time that Madeleine was reportedly taken.

On Wednesday evening, Amelie and about 70 others held a vigil for the missing child, and lit candles for her and other missing children. Together they read mantras including: "never, never give up", "leave no stone unturned" and "still missing, still missed".

Photos of Madeleine – who would now be 19 – made up the backdrop of the vigil, which was led by local vicar Reverend Rob Gladstone. According to LBC, he called for those gathered to "keep up hope" and said: "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," he went on.

madeleine mccann's sister speaks for first time on anniversary
Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA - Getty Images

Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry McCann were also at the vigil, but unlike their daughter Amelie, they did not address the crowd. However, the couple marked the anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance with a statement released on the official Find Madeleine campaign website and later spoke out against media presence at the vigil, expressing concern that their children had been photographed without permission and approached for interview.

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