Portuguese police fly in supercop to solve the mystery of missing Madeleine

Portuguese police fly in supercop to solve the mystery of missing Madeleine
Matt Drake
7 October 2007
The Express on Sunday

Police were last night preparing to call in one of Portugal's most respected detectives in a desperate attempt to solve the mystery of missing Madeleine McCann.

Chief Inspector Carlos do Carmo is being lined up to spearhead the faltering investigation after the leading officer working on the case, Goncalo Amaral, was forced to stand down.

While the inquiry will officially remain based on the theory that Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry killed her, the change of leadership is expected to signal an in-depth review of the case.

Mr Carmo could take over the six man team as early as next week to avoid further allegations that the investigation is on the verge of collapsing.

Close friends of the McCanns say they are worried that for two months police have made no effort to search for Madeleine, who was three when she vanished on May 3.

Police sources confirmed yesterday that Carmo's outstanding record marked him out as the obvious choice to take over Portugal's largestever missing person case.

The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, welcomed the possible appointment.

He said:
"Kate and Gerry are keen to see a quick and effective transfer of the handling of the case. Their main concern is that the attention of the investigation returns to searching for Madeleine.

"They are willing to do whatever is asked of them to co-operate and have always said they are willing to return for a review of the case." 

Amaral was taken off the case after he made controversial remarks about British police allegedly being influenced by the McCanns.

Mark Williams-Thomas, a former child protection detective, said whoever takes over will have to catch up quickly if the case is not to lose momentum.

"It will be very difficult, " he said. "It's good to have a fresh pair of eyes but it will take a while to get up to speed. But I don't think it will be an insurmountable task." 

Colleagues of Mr Carmo say his scientific approach could finally provide answers about what really happened on the night Madeleine went missing.

He has forged a reputation for getting results after leading a number of high-profile investigations. The chief inspector made his name in 2005 after tracking down a gang of armed bank robbers on the Algarve using phone bugs and advanced forensic techniques on suspect vehicles.

Before moving to Lisbon in 2006, he was also credited with cracking a corrupt network of undertakers in the Portimao area who were paying hospital staff for tip-offs about terminally ill patients and then contacting relatives.

Should Mr Carmo be appointed, it is expected he will return from Lisbon to live in the Algarve.

The move follows strong criticism yesterday over the amount of time it has taken forensic experts in Birmingham to return complete results of DNA tests which could provide conclusive evidence as to whether Madeleine is dead.

A police source said:
"The McCanns would never be made official suspects just based on results of the searches carried out. Naturally, the first results sent from Birmingham gave consistency to suspicions.

"There are still various operations to be carried out and we will have to wait for the rest of the results. They are fundamental for us to be able to advance with the investigation." 

But the delay was justified by a spokesman for the laboratory. He explained that the complex nature of the tests required more time than normal. He added:
"These are very specific tests and they are still being carried out. We have maintained a strict co-operation with police." 
One theory which Portuguese detectives are reported to be working on is that Madeleine could have died in the holiday apartment as the result of an accidental fall from a sofa.

Unconfirmed sources also said that Gerry McCann had refused to answer any further questions after his interrogators refused to show him the preliminary DNA results.

The McCanns' legal team visited Portugal last week to hold talks about the possibility of them launching a "public interest" appeal to have secrecy orders lifted so that they can talk about the case.

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