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Original Source:  EXPRESS: SUNDAY 06 APRIL 2008

Up to 60 witnesses will be questioned by police in Britain over Madeleine McCann’s disappearance.

A series of intensive interviews will start this week after a three-man team of senior Portuguese detectives fly into Leicestershire tomorrow.

The trio, led by Paulo Rebelo, the chief investigator in the case, will begin by supervising the quizzing of key witness Jane Tanner.

Ms Tanner, 36, claimed she saw a man carrying a girl from the McCanns’ holiday apartment in the Algarve at about 9.15pm.

Yet another witness says he was outside the flat in Praia da Luz at the same time but did not see her or the mystery man.

After Ms Tanner’s interview, British police, supervised by the Portuguese, will spend three days speaking to remaining members of the Tapas Seven who were dining with Madeleine’s parents when she vanished.

No lawyers will be present and friends of the group stressed they are meeting the police voluntarily. They have been warned to expect lengthy bouts of questioning.

The group were all dining with Kate and Gerry McCann on the night their daughter vanished on May 3 last year in Praia da Luz.

Ms Tanner’s partner Dr Russell O’Brien, 36, from Exeter, was away from the group tending to his sick daughter in the period when Madeleine was snatched.

Dr Matthew Oldfield, 37, a hospital consultant from London, and his wife Rachel, 36, a recruitment consultant, were also at the tapas restaurant.

David Payne, 41, a cardiovascular researcher from Leicester, was the final person, apart from the McCann family, to see Madeleine. His wife, Fiona, 34, and her mother, Diane Webster, will also be questioned by police in Leicester.

Then officers will switch their attention to three separate bands of witnesses who have been singled out by Gerry and Kate McCann as vital.

As arguidos, or official suspects, the couple have the right to demand that certain individuals be seen by police if they are believed to hold relevant information. Despite plans for the Portuguese investigators to return home on Friday, British police will mount a full-scale operation in which more than 50 more witnesses will be interviewed. These will include other guests who were staying at the resort, Ocean Club apartments staff and holidaymakers staying nearby.

Relatives of the McCanns who visited the Algarve in the weeks after she went missing are understood to be on the list, as are their current spokesman Clarence Mitchell and his predecessor Justine McGuiness.

Two sisters who were puzzled by a blond pair of men in their 30s acting strangely at the resort hours before Madeleine went missing are on the interview list.

Jayne Jensen, 54, and Annie Wiltshire, 58, said one of the men standing outside the patio doors started to walk down a flight of steps.

But when he was seen by divorced mum-of-two Annie, from Maidstone, he retraced his steps and began talking to his friend.

Yesterday the McCanns made an emotional plea to Portuguese detectives to clear them in time for the one year anniversary of their daughter’s disappearance.

Madeleine’s parents, both 39, hope the unprecedented move to question their friends in Britain will mark an end to their seven-month ordeal as suspects.

The couple are desperate to return to Praia da Luz to mark the tragic date with a renewed appeal for information which could unlock the mystery surrounding what happened.

Clarence Mitchell confirmed that Kate and Gerry want detectives to lift their arguido status and reveal any evidence they hold.

He said they will not return to the Algarve while they are still suspects.

He said: “Kate and Gerry want to return to Praia da Luz to reinvigorate our campaign to find Madeleine.”


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