'Maddie is dead'

23 November 2007
The Sun
Veronica Lorraine in Praia Da Luz and Antonella Lazzeri

Portugal's top law chief delivers grim verdict

Portugal's top law chief yesterday admitted he believes Madeleine McCann is almost certainly DEAD.

Attorney General Fernando Jose Pinto Monteiro said any kidnapper would have murdered four-year-old Maddie because of the enormous publicity surrounding the case.

He told Portuguese current affairs magazine Visao:
"If it is an abduction, it is natural the abductor killed her. There is a greater degree of probability of the little girl being dead than being alive.

"Would an abductor, with the whole world having Maddie's photo, still demand a ransom?"
Maddie's parents Kate and Gerry, both 39, last night said they were "extremely distressed" by the claims.

Official spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "We still firmly believe that she is alive. Making these comments is entirely unhelpful. Our investigators have every confidence they will find her alive soon."

Portuguese cops have claimed the chance of finding Maddie alive is slim, but this is the first time a high-ranking source has been so blunt.

The comments were last night seen as the clearest sign yet that Portuguese authorities fear Madeleine will never be found alive and the people behind her disappearance in May will escape justice. But daily newspaper Diario de Noticias yesterday rubbished the reports that police were ready to give up on the case.

It claimed a team of officers would continue probing alleged "inconsistencies" in the original statements of Maddie's parents and their holiday pals.

The McCanns' friend Jane Tanner told The Sun this week how she watched the tot being taken away in a blanket.
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