Blundering police chief under the microscope

Blundering police chief under the microscope
Martin Fricker
10 August 2007

This is the bungling police chief leading the shambolic hunt for missing Madeleine McCann.

Guilhermino Encarnacao, 59, dubbed Inspector Clueless, has presided over an astonishing list of blunders during the 13 week-long investigation.

His officers did not spot a mysterious speck of blood in her bedroom or "lock down" the resort immediately she was reported missing.

They failed to make a direct appeal to the kidnapper or issue a description of the distinctive pyjamas Madeleine was wearing when she vanished.

The embarrassing mistakes have put stockily-built Encarnacao, branded a "desk strategist" by the Portuguese media, under the microscope.

A source said his experience of abduction cases was limited and added: "He has a background in detective work but this case is unique. Other officers jokingly refer to Guilhermino as Inspector Clueless. He likes to stay behind his desk and send everyone else out into the field. That's his way.

"He also has a reputation for having long lunches with the other detectives in charge."

Encarnacao dislikes all the media and has only spoken publicly about the case once, the day after Madeleine disappeared.

He refused to speak in English even though the majority of the media present were from the UK. Encarnacao is working closely with Goncalo Amaral, the head of the regional Judicial Police, in Portimao, 25 miles from Praia da Luz.

Both officers were embroiled in controversy over the investigation into the disappearance of nine-year-old Joana Cipriano from nearby Figueira in September 2004.

In echoes of the Madeleine case, the house where she was last seen was not sealed off by the Republican National Guard, another police body. Only when it had been trampled over by officers and bleached clean by relatives did the Judicial Police take over. Joana's body was never found but the case was resolved when Leonor and Joao Cipriano, Joana's mother and uncle, were convicted of killing her and jailed for 16 years.

But Leonor claimed she was punched and kicked by Amaral during questioning, not allowed access to a lawyer and eventually forced to confess.

Amaral was charged over the alleged attack and is currently awaiting trial along with four other officers.

Friends of the McCanns say they have not met Amaral but have been less than impressed by Encarnacao. They prefer to deal with Luis Neves the third detective leading the search for their daughter.

A source close to the family said: "He is young and the McCanns were impressed. They like his grasp of the investigation and his efforts to inform them of its progress."
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Danger of media hype

McCann case highlights danger of media hype
Deborah Orr, columnist (The Independent)
10 August 2007
Canberra Times

Leandro Silva and Leonor Cipriano

The parents of Madeleine McCann are reported as having found recent speculation in the press about their daughter, and the possibility that she is dead, to have been hurtful. One can only be relieved they were not walking the streets of London yesterday, where all over the city, vendors of the Evening Standard sold papers emblazoned with the headline ''Police 'Framing Maddy Mother'.'' The claim is quite without substance, though there can be no doubt that aspects of the report were ''in the public interest''.

A man called Leandro Silva is quoted as being the source. His own story is quite awful enough for there to have been no need of such lurid and irresponsible embellishment.

His own wife, he says, was jailed for killing her daughter and his stepdaughter, Joana. He says that his wife, Leonor Cipriano, was framed by the detective who is now leading the hunt for Madeleine, amid claims that a confession was beaten out of her.

He fears that may happen to Kate McCann, which is the snippet that
provided the headline.

Much of the story is unsubstantiated.

But the Portuguese police have confirmed that the officer in question, Goncalo Amaral, and four others, had been charged variously with torture, omission of evidence and falsification of documents in the case, although they do not say who was charged with what.

That news is extremely troubling in itself, without being dressed up so irresponsibly. It says nothing positive about the machinations of the Portuguese police, who have been criticised by the press already.

But I'm afraid it does not say a lot for the journalistic priorities of the people based in Praia da Luz since the child disappeared, and the editors demanding splashes from them, either.

From the start, the journalistic emphasis has been on sensation and emotionally-driven speculation, rather than sober reporting and investigation. It has taken a long time for the sketchy details of this particular shocker to have been uncovered, and there is a lot more to do before the story really begins to stand up.

This says a great deal about the state of journalism in Britain today, and all over Europe. None of it is terribly edifying.

The thin blanket of coverage that has lain over this case for three months has been justified on the grounds that it is all intended to help find Madeleine. Little time has been spent questioning the wisdom of allowing a missing child to be quite so widely recognisable.

Who, if they had Madeleine, would have been foolish enough to risk being seen in public with her when she was so sought after? Lots of people, it seems, if we are to believe the many reported sightings that have surfaced since May 3. Yet somehow, the huge exposure provided so generously by all media, has not achieved its purported object.

Though that's not the only object of the media.

Over the past months, it has had a vested interest in maintaining the hope Madeleine is alive and there will be a happy ending, for commercial reasons as well as humane ones.

Anyway, it is much easier and much cheaper to do colour pieces about what may or may not be going on in the heads of the McCanns, alongside long essays on how dreadful it is to sit at a keyboard being paid to imagine what would be going on in one's own head, if one was Kate or Gerry McCann, than it is to pour money into long investigations that might take weeks to come up with nothing.

The former approach has the added advantage of encouraging potential readers to place themselves in the situation the McCanns are in as well. Once people have been primed to dip in to the suffering of others in such a vicarious way, then they are hooked into the story very deeply. Madeleine becomes everyone's child, and everyone wants whatever news of her they can get. This lost girl sells papers. Yet such curtain-twitching, gossipy interest is not harmless, because it gets out of control so quickly.

The McCanns may have appreciated the outpouring of sympathy they have received but there have been other outpourings as well, like this latest one, which are in much worse taste than the well-meaning but misguided bad taste that is over-enthusiastic and self-indulgent empathy.

Alongside the expressions of sorrow and surely there is much to be said for simply assuming such sorrow rather than manufacturing or devouring its loud advertisement there have been expressions of a much darker sort. There has been a dreadful preponderance of victim blame, which asserts that Madeleine's parents, rather than Madeleine's abductor, are responsible for the crime. In the McCanns' home town, the local newspaper had to take down a website because it had been so bombarded with that sort of material. The victim-blame has gone even further at times, with the McCanns forced to answer questions from a German journalist who put to the couple, without the usual hypocrisy, that many people were suggesting that they had had a hand in their daughter's kidnapping themselves, or that their friends had.

At the heart of this story is a person who took and harmed a tiny sleeping child, and an occurrence that no one has a difficulty with describing as evil. But this evil has been exploited wildly without restraint. That's also a horrible, sick activity, and it is done in the name of sympathy.
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Cops smearing Maddie parents

Cops 'smearing Maddie parents'
Julie Moult In Praia Da Luz
9 August 2007
The Sun
Friend hits out at wild reports on missing tot

Leandro Silva and Leonor Cipriano
One of Gerry and Kate McCann's holiday friends yesterday said Portuguese police may have leaked "untruths" over the kidnap of the pair's missing four-year-old Madeleine.

Rachael Oldfield, one of seven pals who were with the McCanns in Praia da Luz in May, spoke as more wild claims surfaced accusing the party of involvement in Maddie's disappearance.

A Portuguese newspaper reported officers had intercepted communications between the group as proof that Kate, Gerry and their friends knew the little girl had died in her holiday flat.  The articles implied that a discussion of what happened that night had directly led police to change the focus of their inquiry.


Gerry and Kate, both 39 and doctors from Rothley, Leics, were forced on Tuesday to hit out at claims Maddie was dead - insisting cops were seeking her alive.

And mum-of-one Rachael said of the latest reports:
"It is very hurtful and all rather ludicrous.  "I think there are some leaks coming from the police, but a lot of what I have read recently has been completely untrue.  "Whether a journalist has had a bit of information and made the rest up, or the police are feeding some truth or untruths, I don't know. I read a timetable of what was supposed to have happened on the night in one paper and the timings are totally wrong."

Maddie's family will on Saturday mark the 100th day since she vanished from their apartment on May 3.

Kate and Gerry had left her with their two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie as they ate out nearby. 

One newspaper report quoted a police source as saying: "If everything happened as the English holidaymakers say, in terms of their checking the children, a kidnap would be almost impossible."

The group gave statements to police saying sleeping Maddie was checked every 15 minutes.

Rachael said:
"There would only be a small window for somebody to do it (abduct Madeleine). But presumably if somebody had been watching our movements it would have been possible."

Gerry and Kate yesterday spent an hour at Portimao police station. Their spokesman David Hughes said: "It's very much part of the routine. Police want to keep them informed and updated."

Meanwhile, suspected traces of blood found in their holiday flat were last night being tested at a top UK forensic laboratory.

Cops in Portugal were yesterday accused of trying to FRAME Kate over Maddie's disappearance.

Leandro Silva claims wife Leonor Cipriano was unfairly given 16 years' jail for murdering her nine-year-old daughter Joana, even though no body was found.

He said:
"I'm worried Kate will be framed, just like my wife."

Cop Goncalo Amaral, leading the hunt for Maddie, was charged with criminal offences in the Joana case amid claims a confession was beaten out of Cipriano.
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Fear for Kate

Fear for Kate
Jerry Lawton
9 August 2007
Daily Star

Leandro Silva and Leonor Cipriano

Madeleine McCann's mum is being set up by Portuguese police to take the rap for her daughter's disappearance, it was claimed last night. The husband of a woman serving 16 years in a Portuguese jail in a similar missing child case said he feared Kate was now being "framed" - just like his wife.

Three years ago Leanor Cipriano was convicted of murdering her nine-year-old daughter Joana. She had vanished seven miles from the spot where Madeleine went missing. Joana's body has never been found. Her mum claims a confession was beaten out of her to disguise police bungles.

Last night Cipriano's husband Leandro Silva said:

"Joana's mother never did anything and she was arrested. I am fearful the same thing will happen to Kate McCann. Whenever I watch the news it reminds me of Joana. It is hard. I just pray Madeleine appears."

Detective Goncalo Amaral, who is leading the hunt for Madeleine, is an official suspect in the Leanor case.
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Smear campaign against Kate

The police are conducting a smear campaign against Kate McCann, says friend
David Sanderson and Yepoka Yeebo
9 August 2007
The Times

Fears that Madeleine's mother is being set up
Confidentiality means parents can't speak out

A close friend of Madeleine McCann's parents said yesterday that a "hurtful and ludicrous" smear campaign was being conducted against the family.

Rachael Oldfield, who was dining with Gerry and Kate McCann when Madeleine disappeared, was responding to reports in Portuguese newspapers claiming that police believed Madeleine had been killed and her family and friends had information about her death.

Diario de Noticias claimed that intercepted e-mails and telephone conversations between the friends had influenced the police's new theory that Madeleine had died in their apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3 rather than being abducted.

Mrs Oldfield, 36, said yesterday that she thought Portuguese police were briefing against the family.
"I think there are some leaks coming from the police because a lot of what I have read is completely untrue," she said. "It is very hurtful and it is all rather ludicrous. But it is difficult to defend ourselves because the investigation and everything in it is confidential."

Mr and Mrs McCann are due to be reinterviewed separately at the headquarters of the Policia Judiciaria in Portimao as part of a review of the investigation led by British officers. A sample of what is thought to be blood, taken from the apartment in the Algarve, was due to arrive in Britain for analysis yesterday.

Mrs Oldfield's comments follow a claim by the husband of a woman serving 16 years in jail in another missing child case in the Algarve that Mrs McCann was being set up by Portuguese police to take the blame for Madeleine's death.

Leandro Silva, who claimed that the conviction three years ago of his wife, Leonor Cipriano, for the murder of her daughter Joana had been a miscarriage of justice, said:
"Joana's mother never did anything and she was arrested. I am fearful the same thing will happen to Kate McCann."

Goncalo Amaral, one of the officers co-ordinating the inquiry into Madeleine's disappearance, was charged in June along with four other officers with offences relating to the inquiry into the disappearance of Joana, who was 9. It is alleged that Mrs Cipriano was beaten into a confession.

In another development yesterday, Belgian authorities said that a DNA sample taken from a drink bottle in a restaurant where Madeleine McCann was reported to have been spotted last month was that of a man. The country's police said, however, that the tests did not categorically prove that Madeleine had not been present.

Belgian police had removed a bottle of yoghurt and a fruit juice drink from a restaurant in the Flemish town of Tongeren, where a witness said that she had seen a girl resembling Madeleine with a Dutchman and an English-speaking woman on July 28. Katja Vandoren, a spokeswoman for Belgian prosecutors, said that the DNA profile had not matched any of the profiles held on Belgian and Dutch databases.

In a rare solo interview yesterday, Mrs McCann refused to comment on developments in the case but said that reported sightings of her daughter, even if they turned out to be false, helped her to remain positive. Speaking to BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour programme, Mrs McCann, 38, of Rothley, Leicestershire, said:
"We haven't had any news to the contrary that Madeleine isn't alive, and that's very important.  And there have been many cases of children that have been found much later than this so again that's reassuring. So the hope's still there."

Mrs McCann also said that she supported the introduction of a Europe-wide "quick response" system to reports of child abductions, saying that she had been "horrified" to learn the scale of the problem. She said that the sex offenders register and system of Criminal Records Bureau checks should be enforced across Europe, adding that the United States seemed to be far ahead in its ability to respond to child kidnappings.

The police team conducting the case review, including two British officers, are searching coves along the Algarve coast using information provided to them by an oceanographer at the University of the Algarve.
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Leandro Silva claims

David Pilditch in Praia da Luz
9 August 2007
The Daily Express
Police intercept parents' phone calls and spy on their emails

The parents of Madeleine McCann have been bugged by police investigating the disappearance of their four-year-old daughter, it was sensationally claimed last night. Newspaper reports in Portugal say Kate and Gerry McCann and their friends have had their phones tapped and emails monitored. It is alleged that conversations between the couple and members of their holiday party have provided police with valuable new lines of investigation.

The allegation comes as a close friend of the McCanns broke her silence yesterday to launch a bitter attack on Portuguese police over an apparent attempt to implicate them in the crime. Rachael Oldfield, who was on holiday with the couple, blamed detectives for the growing smear campaign against them.

She said:
"I think there are some leaks coming from the police because a lot of what I have read recently has been completely untrue."

Yesterday Kate and Gerry, both 39, held informal talks with senior officers as the "deeply hurtful" smear campaign grew. The hour-long meeting, the second that Gerry has attended this week, took place at the Policia Judiciara headquarters in Portimao. The couple's previous briefings have been on neutral ground at the British Consulate.

The meeting followed a report in the newspaper Dairio de Noticias that police had intercepted emails and phone conversations between the McCanns and their friends.

The report said the group's conversations were being monitored by Portuguese and British police as part of a new phase in the investigation.

The paper said: "The police want to question the McCanns and their friends so that they can clarify the contradictions in their statements. They will put the telephone calls and emails which were intercepted to them." Earlier this week the same paper claimed that police had known for the past month that Madeleine had died in the apartment and that the McCanns would be re-interviewed.

Last night Gerry McCann hit back at the accusations. He said:

"We want to make it clear that, as far as we know, there is still absolutely no evidence that Madeleine has been seriously harmed, and Kate and I have to believe she is still alive. "The Portuguese police have assured us on numerous occasions that they are looking for Madeleine and not a corpse. "Of course all possibilities are being considered and the police have to be certain before eliminating any of the scenarios. "It is absolutely right that we are subject to the same high standards of investigation as anyone else. Kate and I have, and will continue, to assist the police in every possible way. "We hope there is a breakthrough very soon. In the meantime, the campaign to keep the public involved in the search for Madeleine continues. "We are always trying to think of ideas that will reach people who may not have heard of Madeleine's disappearance."

Yesterday the father of a missing Portuguese girl claimed police were trying to "frame" Madeleine's parents.

Leandro Silva said he feared the couple were being "set up" like his wife, Leanor Cipriano, who is serving 16 years after being convicted of murdering her nine-year-old daughter Joana.

Detective Goncalo Amaral, one of the senior detectives in the hunt for Madeleine, is an official suspect in allegations against police in the Cipriano case. Three other officers have been accused of torture, a fourth with omitting evidence and a fifth with falsifying documents.

Three years ago Joana vanished seven miles from the spot where Madeleine went missing. Her body has never been found.

Joana's mother claims a confession was beaten out of her to disguise police blunders.

Mr Silva said:
"I am worried Kate will be framed for a crime she did not commit, the way it happened to my wife."
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Police framing Kate McCann

Police 'framing Maddy mother'
Exclusive by Robert Mendick In Praia da Luz
8 August 2007
Evening Standard
Detective in charge 'jailed my innocent wife for child killing'

Leandro Silva and Leonor Cipriano

Kate McCann is being set up by Portuguese police to take the blame over Madeleine, it was claimed today.

The husband of a woman serving 16 years in another missing child case in the Algarve said: 'I am worried Kate will be framed for a crime she did not commit, the way it happened to my wife.'

The warning comes as pressure mounted on the McCanns after Portuguese police said Madeleine, who was three when she disappeared, died in her bedroom following the discovery of specks of blood on the wall.

Three years ago Leonor Cipriano was convicted of murdering her nine-year-old daughter Joana although her body has never been found.

The detective leading the hunt for Madeleine has been charged with criminal offences in the Joana case amid claims that a confession was beaten out of Cipriano.

The Portuguese woman claims she is the victim of a miscarriage of justice over the alleged murder seven miles from the spot where Madeleine went missing on 3 May.

In echoes of the Madeleine case, the investigation into Joana's disappearance got off to a bad start when the Republican National Guard failed to seal off the house where she was last seen.

Speaking exclusively to the Standard, Joana's stepfather Leandro Silva said today:
'Joana's mother never did anything and she was arrested.

'I am fearful the same thing will happen to Kate McCann.Whenever I watch the news it reminds me of Joana. It is hard. I just pray Madeleine appears. With Joana the police did a bad job. They didn't spend enough time looking for the child.'
Goncalo Amaral, who is co-ordinating the search for Madeleine, and four other Portuguese police officers, were charged in June with offences relating to the inquiry into the disappearance of Joana. Cipriano has alleged that she was beaten into a confession during a police interrogation that took place without her lawyer or the knowledge of the public prosecutor.

Portugal's Ministerio Publico said at the time it had charged three police officers with torture, a fourth with omission of evidence and a fifth with falsification of documents. It did not reveal who had been charged with which offence.

Despite the charges, Mr Amaral, the co-ordinator of the Policia Judiciaria in Portimao, has not been suspended from working on the Madeleine investigation.

Police sources have suggested that Mr Amaral was 'very angry' about the allegations and was considering taking action against the Ministerio Publico.

'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.'

Mrs McCann, a doctor, and her husband Gerry, a cardiologist, have stayed in Praia da Luz with their two-year-old twins since Madeleine went missing while they were on holiday. The couple, both aged 38, and six friends who dined with them on the night of Madeleine's disappearance, have come under suspicion as the police case against the only official suspect, Robert Murat, appears to be winding down.

The pressure on the McCanns follows a series of leaks from Portuguese police and the discovery of traces of blood in the apartment. Police are understood to have spent the past two days studying ocean currents to determine where Madeleine's body - should it have been dumped at sea - would wash up. Police sources said officers, including British detectives handling the sniffer dogs which discovered the blood in the McCanns' apartment, were scouring local beaches looking for a body.

That bolsters claims made yesterday that Madeleine was either murdered or died accidentally in her room. Police sources suggested the girl died in the room and her body was dumped in the sea. The Standard reported yesterday how police no longer suspected Madeleine is the victim of an abduction.

The McCanns responded to the reports by reiterating their belief their daughter is still alive while a family spokeswoman described allegations made in Portuguese newspapers as very 'hurtful'.

The couple have campaigned tirelessly across Europe to keep the hunt for their daughter in the public eye. Saturday will mark the 100th day since she was discovered missing in the family's apartment at the Mark Warner Ocean Summer Club.

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Irishman in new Maddie probe lead

7 August 2007
Evening Herald

Expat Mr Smith was leaving a bar in the resort with his family at about 9.50pm when he saw a man carrying a small child past the church in the centre of the town. It was about 20 minutes after Madeleine is believed to have been snatched from her bedroom 500 metres away. Mr Smith said the man was walking close to the flat of Sergei Malinka, a 22-year-old Russian web designer who had worked for suspect Robert Murat. He described the man as being about 5’ 7” tall, and wearing beige trousers, with the clothes on his upper body obscured by the child he was carrying.

The description matched that given by Jane Tanner, a friend of Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann who claimed to have seen a man carrying a child while she dined with the couple on the night of the abduction.

Mr Smith told Portuguese police that the man he saw was not Robert Murat.


He explained: “If it had been him carrying the child, I guarantee I would have recognised him.”

Furthermore, he said he had seen Murat earlier that night, drinking in a local bar. This contradicts Murat’s claim that he was at home with his mother Jennifer for the evening.

Mr Smith is the second Irishman to come forward with vital information relating to the disappearance of the four-year-old. A family from Drogheda has already given evidence to police after staying in Praia da Luz in the week that Madeleine disappeared.

Members of the family claimed they saw a child being carried by a man, around the time that Madeleine was taken from her parents’ apartment in the Ocean Club complex. The latest revelations came after detectives admitted that they have put a second man under surveillance, in the belief that he may have been an accomplice to the abduction.


Undercover police have been secretly watching the man, who speaks Portuguese and is in his 30s. He first came under suspicion days after Madeleine disappeared. A source close to the investigation said: “Murat is not the only person in the frame. Another man has been under surveillance for a period of time but has no idea he is suspected of being involved. “His movements have been secretly monitored for some time. The attention being paid to Murat shows he remains the prime suspect. But there has always been a suspicion the whoever abducted Madeleine may not have been acting alone.

“It is also possible the second man was not physically involved in Madeleine"s abduction but knows who did it and is concealing the crime”. The new surveillance operation is being described by detectives as a “major development”.

Yesterday, police called off a second search of Robert Murat’s garden, which is just 100 yards from the apartment where Madeleine was abducted. The examination by specialist teams had been expected to last for several days, with officers digging up sections of the garden. They taped off small areas and used probes that can detect traces of human remains. They found nothing to link Murat with the disappearance. Portugal’s chief prosecutor has also told police that is is time Murat is either charged or cleared.

Meanwhile, Madeleine’s distraught parents will this weekend mark 100 days since her disappearance. In her first solo interview since her daughter’s abduction, Kate McCann told of her last conversation with her daughter as she prepared her for bed. She said: “Mummy, I"ve had the best day ever. I"m having lots and lots of fun”


She also said it is unlikely she will ever return to the family home Leicestershire because of the painful memories it would trigger.

Meanwhile Belgian authorities are investigating a possible sighting of the missing girl in the Flemish town of Tongeren, close to the Dutch border. A customer at a restaurant in the town told police she was “100pc sure” she had seen the youngster.
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Madeleine police hunt man seen carrying a small child to the beach

7 August 2007 
The Times
David Brown

* Body is feared to have been thrown into sea

* Search finds nothing at official suspect's home

A man seen taking a small girl towards the beach at Praia da Luz on the night that Madeleine McCann disappeared from her holiday apartment is being sought by detectives in the Algarve.
An oceanographer has also been asked to determine what would have happened to a body thrown into the sea on the night that Madeleine was taken from her bed 95 days ago.

Police failed to find any evidence linking her disappearance to the only official suspect in the case, Robert Murat, after spending the weekend searching his home and garden. The search was abandoned after two British police dogs and sophisticated scanning equipment failed to find any trace of the missing girl. One of the dogs is trained to find bodies and the other traces of blood.

Detectives are now concentrating their efforts on another suspect who was seen carrying a small child past the church in the centre of Praia da Luz.

Martin Smith, from the Irish Republic, told detectives that the man matched the description of a suspect seen close to the holiday apartment where Madeleine had been sleeping with her younger brother and sister.

Mr Smith and his wife and children were leaving the Kelly Bar about 20 minutes after Madeleine is believed to have been taken from her bedroom 500 metres away.

He said that the man was not Mr Murat, whom he had known for a number of years. "If it had been him carrying the child, I guarantee I would have recognised him," Mr Smith said.

The description, a white man 5ft 7in (170cm) to 5ft 9in (175cm), matches that of a suspect seen walking away from the McCanns' apartment about 9.30pm by Jane Tanner, who was on holiday with the family.

A source close to the Portuguese police investigation said: "Murat is not the only person in the frame. Another man has been under surveillance for a period of time but has no idea that he is involved."

The man seen by Mr Smith was walking close to the flat of Sergei Malinka, 22, a Russian web designer who had worked for Mr Murat. Mr Malinka has previously been questioned by the Policia Judiciaria about Madeleine's disappearance but has strenuously denied any involvement.

Tuck Price, a spokesman for the Murat family, said yesterday that the police had not discovered anything of interest while searching the villa. "They haven't officially said anything -they didn't say anything to us -but we were there and I think we would have seen and known if they had found anything," he said. "Robert was there pretty much the whole time."

Mr Murat, 33, has insisted that he was at home, about 100 metres from the McCanns' apartment, with his mother on the night that Madeleine went missing. Mrs Murat, 71, said: "He's going to be cleared -he is innocent."

The British detectives sent to review the Portuguese investigation into Madeleine's disappearance appear to be concentrating on the presumption that she died about the time that she was reported missing on May 3.

Detectives have asked Joao Alveirinho Dias, of the University of the Algarve, to analyse details of currents and tides in the ocean off Praia da Luz in an attempt to discover where a body is likely to have washed up. Portuguese newspapers have reported that possible traces of Madeleine's blood have been detected in her bedroom and that police believe she may have been killed by accident in the apartment.
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