Amaral accused McCanns of manipulating British police

2 October 2007
06:18 AM
Press Association National Newswire
By Chris Greenwood, PA Crime Correspondent

The Portuguese detective in charge of the Madeleine McCann inquiry today accused her parents of manipulating British police.  Goncalo Amaral said Kate and Gerry McCann have been calling the shots by identifying lines of inquiry for Leicestershire officers.

The detective, who heads the regional Policia Judiciaria in Portimao, said British police have overlooked the fact that the couple remain suspects.  And he accused the McCanns of releasing new information each day in a bid to distract and confuse the 152-day-old inquiry.  His comments are the latest salvo from the Portuguese authorities in an increasingly bitter war of words over the case.

The head of Portugal's police federation said a claim by Mr McCann that Madeleine's abductor may have been hiding in her room was a 'ridiculous episode''.

Mr Amaral broke his silence after it was reported that an anonymous email sent to the Prince of Wales's website was being investigated by British police.  The message suggested that a disgruntled employee working at the Ocean Club complex in Praia da Luz may have kidnapped the young girl.

Mr Amaral told Portuguese newspaper Diario de Noticias that all current and former employees at the resort have been investigated.  He said: 'The British police have only worked on what the McCann couple want them to work on and what suits them.'' 

Speaking about the email lead, he added: 'This situation has no credibility whatsoever for the Portuguese police.  '(British police) have investigated tips and information worked on by the McCanns, forgetting that the couple are suspected of causing the death of their daughter Madeleine.  'This story about kidnapping for revenge is another fact worked on by the McCanns.''

Earlier, Carlos Anjos, head of Portugal's police federation, accused Mr McCann of being negligent.  His comments came after Mr McCann said he believes someone was hiding in Madeleine's room when he went back to check on the children on May 3.

Mr Anjos said: 'If he was suspicious that there was a man in the apartment, and then he calmly went to dinner, then words cannot describe how negligent he is as a father.''

He also criticised what he claimed is a steady stream of information from the McCann camp.

He said: 'Since their daughter disappeared, Gerry and Kate have followed a strategy of almost daily announcements of new facts.''

Despite his previous media silence, Mr Amaral has been a controversial figure during the search for Madeleine.  Last month it emerged that he is one of five men charged over an alleged attack on the mother of another missing girl.  The men are accused of 'scenes of aggression'' against Leonor Cipriano, whose nine-year-old daughter, Joana, vanished in September 2004.

The detective was also forced to defend a two-hour lunch break with police spokesman Olegario Sousa at a fish restaurant in Portimao.  The two men were spotted drinking what looked like white wine and whisky as the McCanns flew to Berlin to publicise the case.

A spokeswoman for the McCanns said Portuguese police have been 'very helpful'' by regularly updating the family on progress in the case.  She said: 'The McCanns have always worked hard to maintain a positive working relationship with the Portuguese police.  'Obviously it is in their interests to support the work they are doing to find Madeleine.''

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