Madeleine's parents' hunt takes them to Morocco

Madeleine's parents' hunt takes them to Morocco
10 June 2007
07:46 PM
Press Association National Newswire
By Caroline Gammell, PA Chief Reporter in Casablanca

Armed with appeal posters written in Arabic, Kate and Gerry McCann are taking their search for Madeleine to north Africa today in the last of a series of visits designed to help find their daughter.

The couple flew from Lisbon to Casablanca last night before travelling on to the Moroccan capital of Rabat.

Morocco has repeatedly surfaced in the hunt for their four-year-old daughter, with reported sightings and apparent mobile telephone links.

The McCanns will spend two days in Rabat, meeting child abuse and molestation groups as well as holding their now routine press conference.

It is 39 days since Madeleine was snatched from her bed in the Algarve resort town of Praia da Luz.

The couple have said this trip is the last they will do in their attempts to find their daughter but are determined to stay in Portugal until she is found.

Mrs McCann, 38, was particularly keen to go to Morocco because of its proximity to Spain and Portugal.

It is just 35 minutes from Spain by ferry and they run several times a day.

Mr McCann, 39, said the borders of Portugal were not closed for at least 12 hours after Madeleine was abducted, making it very possible that she was smuggled out of the country.

A sighting at a petrol station in Marrakesh six days after she disappeared is one of the leads that the McCanns want to make sure is being followed up.

Mari Pollard, a Norwegian woman living in Spain who was on holiday in Morocco, said she saw a small blonde girl on May 9 with a man who did not look like her father.

The little girl, looking sad and apparently dressed in pale blue pyjamas, turned to the man and said 'can I see mummy soon?'.

Mrs Pollard said initially the Spanish, Portuguese and British authorities were not interested in what she had seen and she has yet to meet any investigating officers face to face.

While in the north African country, the McCanns will meet representatives from the Moroccan League for the Protection of Children and Touche Pas Mon Enfants, or Do Not Touch My Children.

They are also hoping to meet the Interior Minister and the Moroccan Commissioner of Police.

Yesterday it emerged that a senior Portuguese police officer working on Madeleine's case has been charged over an attack on the mother of another missing girl.

Goncalo Amaral, co-ordinator of the Policia Judiciara in Portimao, Algarve, is one of five men accused of 'scenes of aggression'' against Leonor Cipriano, whose nine-year-old daughter Joana disappeared in September 2004.

The little girl's body has never been found but Cipriano and her brother Joao were charged and convicted of her murder.

She went missing from her home in Figueira, not far from where Madeleine was abducted.

The alleged attack on Cipriano occurred when she was questioned over Joana's apparent abduction.

It is claimed the suspect was left with bruises all over her face and body, according to local newspaper Jornal de Noticias.

The Ministerio Publico (MP), or District Attorney, charged three PJ officers with torture, a fourth with omission of evidence and a fifth with falsification of documents.

The MP did not reveal who had been charged with what offence.

Police sources said Mr Amaral was 'very angry'' about the allegations and was considering taking action against the MP.

'He is very professional and has had a lot of success in solving cases,'' the source said.

'He is very upset because reporters never speak of these successes.''

It is alleged that the beating took place as Cipriano was questioned without a lawyer, according to the Portuguese Expresso newspaper.

She lodged a formal complaint about her treatment which was followed up by the MP.

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