A picture of Madeleine McCann, who disapeared from the Praia da Luz beach resort in the Algarve, is displayed at Our Lady of Fatima shrine, in Fatima, northern Portugal. Image Credit: AP file

London: The parents of British toddler Madeleine McCann said on Tuesday that finding the truth about her disappearance while on holiday in Portugal was “essential”, 15 years after the “truly horrific crime”.

“This year we mark 15 years since we last saw Madeleine. It feels no harder than any other but no easier either. It’s a very long time,” Kate and Gerry McCann said in a statement on their website.

Madeleine McCann went missing from Portugal’s Praia da Luz seaside resort on May 3, 2007 when she was three years old.

Her disappearance sparked a huge manhunt and an international media frenzy, with photographs of Maddie plastered across billboards and news bulletins.

“Regardless of outcome, Madeleine will always be our daughter and a truly horrific crime has been committed,” her parents said.

“It is true though that uncertainty creates weakness; knowledge and certainty give strength, and for this reason our need for answers, for the truth, is essential.”

Last month, Portuguese authorities joined German prosecutors in declaring a convicted German rapist the prime suspect in her disappearance.

While Portuguese authorities did not name the suspect, it is understood to be Christian B., the same person German prosecutors are investigating on suspicion of murdering the little girl.

No charges have been brought yet against Christian B. in either country, and no body has been found.

Christian B. is currently serving a seven-year sentence in Oldenburg, northern Germany, for raping a 72-year-old American tourist in Praia da Luz in 2005.

“We are grateful for the ongoing work and commitment of the UK, Portuguese and German authorities, as it is this combined police effort which will yield results and bring us those answers,” the McCanns said.