Police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann are following a new
line of inquiry which could see them carry out a series of searches in the next
The developments mark the first departure from investigations centred on Robert
Murat, the only formal suspect in the case, who has been ruled out and will be
cleared of his "arguido" status within weeks.
Every detective in the Algarve
is on standby today. Search warrants have been signed and police are awaiting
final orders to start an operation believed to be linked to a new potential
The Policia Judiciaria, the Portuguese equivalent of CID, has been on alert
since Friday. The details of the lead are a closely guarded secret and
detectives have been warned that they are being monitored for any leaks.
The warrants are only vaild until the end of tomorrow, but could be extended if
police believe it is worth pursuing.
The Public Prosecutor's Office, which directs the police inquiry, signed a
series of documents on Friday, ordering the PJ in Faro to put detectives on
standby and authorising search warrants at locations that may be linked to the
disappearance of Madeleine 109 days ago.
Staff from the Ocean Club complex, where Madeleine disappeared on May 3, will
be also be re-interviewed today. A police source said: "We are
re-interviewing several witnesses in order to clarify details that may be
relevant to the new line of inquiry in light of facts we have found."
Pamela Fenn, 70, who lives in the apartment above where the McCanns were
staying, and her niece, who is flying to Portugal
from the UK,
will be among those spoken to.
Mrs Fenn has said that in the weeks leading up to Madeleine's disappearance she
scared off an intruder in her apartment.
There was no apparent sign of a break-in and it is thought the man may have had
a key to let himself into the flat. She will be making a formal statement today
at police headquarters in the city of Portimao.
There was also another burglary in the complex a few weeks before in which
police also suspected the intruder had a key.
Mrs Fenn's niece was staying with her aunt in the week that the McCanns were on
holiday. She saw a suspicious-looking man hanging around the McCanns' apartment
about the time Madeleine vanished.
She has spoken to British police and told them that he matched the description
of a suspect seen leaving the scene with a child wrapped up in a blanket on the
night of Madeleine's disappearance.
The police are working on the assumption that the four-year-old is dead, but
that "strong theory" is not believed to be related to the new lead.
Unconfirmed reports in a Portuguese tabloid claimed that British police are
also awaiting instructions from the Policia Judiciaria relating to an English
Kate and Gerry McCann have still not been briefed on any developments but hope
to meet detectives this week.
Over the weekend, friends suggested that the family would stay in Portugal until
the end of the summer, pending developments.
The fighting fund launched to help the search has raised more than £1 million.
The McCanns clarified this weekend that they are not using it to pay for