New head of investigation should refocus inquiry

By PA Reporters
3 October 2007
01:29 AM
Press Association National Newswire

The new head of the Portuguese police investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann should 'refocus'' the inquiry on finding the youngster, the family's spokesman said today.

Chief Inspector Goncalo Amaral was taken off the case following his comments that Kate and Gerry McCann had been calling the shots by identifying lines of inquiry for Leicestershire officers.

The family's spokesman Clarence Mitchell told GMTV the claims were 'ludicrous''.

He added:
'What they want now is whoever takes over to refocus the inquiry on to finding Madeleine.''

Mr Mitchell said the decision to remove Mr Amaral was 'a decision for the Portuguese authorities.
''  'Kate and Gerry have always said they were more than happy to cooperate with the Portuguese authorities whoever that might be.  'So in other words, whoever takes over from Mr Amaral as head of the investigation, they will continue that cooperation and do anything that is required - including going back to Portugal for more interviews if necessary.''

Asked if it was true the McCann's were identifying lines of inquiry for Leicestershire Police, he replied: 'Of course not, it's an absolutely ridiculous suggestion.''  'It is a Portuguese-led inquiry and will remain so. And of course from time to time there is communication with Gerry and Kate as there would be in any police investigation.  'It is ludicrous to suggest that they have done anything like that.'

He called for an end to the printing of 'unsubstantiated allegations'' in newspapers in Portugal and Britain.

'What they want now is whoever takes over to refocus the inquiry on to finding Madeleine.''  'There have been so many distractions, so many unsubstantiated allegations swirling around all of this out there and repeated here in Britain.  'Surely it is now time to for all of that nonsense to end and for the search for Madeleine to be re-energised.''

Mr Amaral, who heads the regional Policia Judiciaria in Portimao, was quoted yesterday suggesting that British police had 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.

The authorities in Portugal refused to discuss the decision to take him off the case.

But Portuguese Justice Minister Alberto Costa said:
'We have to concentrate on the work, not on making comments.''

Mr Amaral has been a controversial figure during the search for Madeleine, who went missing in May during a family holiday in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz.

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, who was convicted of the murder of her nine-year-old daughter, Joana, 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 during the search for Madeleine. The men were spotted drinking what looked like white wine and whisky as the McCanns flew to Berlin to publicise the case.

Mr Amaral's comments yesterday were the latest salvo from the Portuguese authorities in an increasingly bitter war of words over the case.

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 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 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 believed 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 was 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.''

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