14/09/2007

Portuguese Police Examine Kate McCann's Diary

Portuguese police are reportedly examining a copy of Madeleine McCann's mother's diary as they continue to investigate the four-year-old's disappearance.

The BBC reported that police are examining a photocopy of Kate McCann's private diary, as well as a laptop belonging to her husband, Gerry.

Some Portuguese newspapers have printed what they have claimed are extracts from the diary as the case continues.

It emerged on Friday that the couple are meeting with lawyers to consider their next steps.

It comes amid a number of media reports on the case, including reports that 'bodily fluids' with an 88% match to Madeleine's genetic profile were found in the boot of the McCann's hired car in Portugal.

French newspaper 'France Soir' reported that toxicological tests on the fluids showed that the four-year-old had apparently consumed a large amount of sedatives.

Meanwhile, Portuguese newspaper Publico reported that police wanted to reinterview Mrs McCann, while separate reports indicated that police wanted to conduct fresh interviews with friends of the couple who were on holiday with them in Portugal when Madeleine vanished.

On Thursday, it was reported that British police had been asked to seize items of evidence from the McCann's home in Rothley in Leicestershire, including Madeleine's toy Cuddle Cat, which Mrs McCann was often seen clutching following her daughter's disappearance.

The couple, both 39, were named as formal suspects - or 'arguidos' - in the case last week, although they were allowed to leave Portugal to return to the UK on Sunday.

DNA evidence was discovered in a car, hired by the McCanns three weeks after Madeleine vanished. It was initially reported that it was a 100% match with the missing four-year-old, but Portuguese police have played down these reports.

A Portuguese judge is now studying a dossier on the case and reviewing the evidence against the McCanns to decide whether or not to bring charges against the couple.

Madeleine disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in the Algarve on May 3.

However, crime expert Mark Williams-Thomas, has called for Portuguese police to re-open the investigation into the abduction of a Portuguese girl who disappeared in the same region three years ago in a case which he says bears a strong resemblance to the Madeleine McCann case.

In an interview with Sky News, former detective Mr Williams-Thomas said that there were too many similarities between the two cases for it not to be re-investigated.

Eight-year-old Joana Cipriano vanished from the village of Figueira - just seven miles from Praia da Luz - in September 12, 2004. She had gone to collect groceries but never returned. Her body has never been found.

Joana's mother, Leonor, and her brother Joao were convicted of her murder and sentenced to 16 years in jail. However, they claim that they were set up and forced to make false confessions. It is understood that five police officers have now been accused of forcing false confessions from the pair.

Mr Williams-Thomas told Sky News: "There are so many similarities between the cases it has to be eliminated. Therefore to consider solely Kate and Gerry McCann as suspects rather than considering all the options is ludicrous."

(KMcA/SP)

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