Madeleine parents in the clear

Madeleine parents in the clear
Martin Evans
8 October 2007
The Daily Express

New shock on DNA evidence

The case against Kate and Gerry McCann lay in tatters last night after DNA evidence was found to be inconclusive.

With no fresh leads, Portuguese police are coming under increasing pressure to clear the couple.

Now friends of the McCanns have said it is time for the investigation to focus on finding missing Madeleine.

Scientists have worked round the clock for more than two months analysing forensic material found in the McCanns' Algarve holiday apartment and hire car.

But no solid evidence has yet emerged to support the theory that the toddler died the night she vanished, aged three.

A source close to the investigation said:
"The tests which have taken place so far have proved inconclusive.

"Retesting will continue for some time but all the indications are that there will not be anything significant to come out of it."

Friends of the McCanns said the Policia Judiciaria case against the couple had only added to their distress instead of helping to find Madeleine, who vanished on May 3.

One said yesterday:
"Of course they have no DNA evidence against them. How could they? They're not guilty.

"The case has been full of holes from the start, yet Madeleine's heartbroken parents have been forced to endure the agony of being accused of killing her.

"It is a disgrace and it is now time to drop the whole ludicrous thing and get on with what they should have been doing from day one - and that is searching for Madeleine."

Kate and Gerry, both 39, are also terrified that they will not be able to rebuild their lives while the suspicion hangs over them.

A source close to them said:
"Gerry and Kate's biggest fear is that Madeleine will never be found and the case will go unsolved. They could go on for ever without knowing what happened to their daughter and that's unbearable.

"If Madeleine isn't found, the McCanns also fear they will have to live under a cloud of suspicion for years. They are desperately hoping Madeleine is alive and that hope still drives them.

"They want the police to refocus their concentration on finding Madeleine and will do whatever it takes."

Even before the latest findings emerged, cracks had already begun to appear in the Portuguese investigation.

Last week the man heading the case, Goncalo Amaral, was sacked for accusing British police of being manipulated by the McCanns, while his second in command applied for unpaid leave.

The DNA evidence formed the central plank of the PJ's case against the couple.

A huge amount of material was passed for analysis to the Forensic Science Service laboratory in Birmingham after British sniffer dogs searched in and around Praia da Luz in early August.

They were said to have detected the scent of a corpse in key locations, and found hairs allegedly belonging to Madeleine in the back of the McCanns' hire car and traces of a bodily fluid under the upholstery.

The couple had not hired the vehicle until 25 days after Madeleine went missing, so police concluded that they must have moved her body in the boot weeks after first hiding it.

Detectives were confident enough with the evidence to declare the couple arguidos, or official suspects.

But McCann family members explained the DNA - Madeleine's clothing had been placed in the boot of the Renault Scenic, as had soiled nappies belonging to the couple's young twins Sean and Amelie. The "corpse" smell was due to left-over food including meat being taken to a rubbish tip in the car.

Yesterday it emerged that a missing persons expert who claims he tracked Madeleine to a beach in Praia da Luz is returning to Portugal.

Danie Krugel, a South African former police colonel, first visited in July and used sophisticated tracking techniques to follow a trail that went cold at the water's edge.

He said:
"I'm convinced Madeleine's body is in Praia da Luz."

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