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Original Source: EXPRESS: THURSDAY 13-SEPTEMBER 2007
Thursday September 13,2007
By Padraic Flanagan  in Praia da Luz

Jose Cunha de Magalhaes e Meneses Public prosecutor

Attorney General Fernando José Pinto Monteiro

THE parents of missing Madeleine McCann yesterday challenged the police: "Find the body and prove we killed her."


The couple, who are suspected over the child's death and the disposal her body, issued the startling ultimatum as the public prosecutor in Portugal sent the police case against them to a judge.


It is thought that the McCanns' high-powered lawyers have told them that without a body it will be extremely difficult for the authorities to press charges.


A close friend said: "The legitimate question to ask Portuguese police is: 'Where is the body? Where is the evidence that Madeleine is dead? We have got no idea'."


The change in the family's tone – just days after the McCanns were still pleading for the search for Madeleine to continue – surprised sources close to the investigation.


"It seems remarkable that just days after the McCanns were saying they thought Madeleine was still alive and missing, now they're talking about a body," a source said. "I don’t know if this is really the McCanns speaking or just one of the people working on their publicity campaign but it is not the kind of comment to impress a team of detectives who think you’re guilty."


The case against the McCanns detailed in the dossier of evidence now before Judge Pedro Miguel dos Anjos Frias appears to rest mainly on potentially damaging forensic test results.


These are said to include Madeleine's DNA in traces of bodily fluid, as well as a mass of hair, discovered in the McCanns' hire car which was rented 25 days after she went missing on May 3.


Portugal's attorney general Fernando Jose Pinto Monteiro has indicated the police investigation into Kate and Gerry, both 39-year-old doctors, has not ended and suggested stricter bail conditions could be imposed on the couple.


Public prosecutor Jose Cunha de Magalhaes e Meneses, based at Portimao on the Algarve, on Tuesday ordered the 10 lever-arch police files in the case to go before the judge.


Mr Jose Pinto Monteiro announced last night that he was appointing a second public prosecutor to the case.


Luis Bilro Verao, from the Evora district in central Portugal, will oversee the work of Portimao-based Mr Cunha de Magalhaes e Meneses.


A friend of the McCanns said the family had been advised that the prosecutor was probably either seeking further guidance from the judge or applying for the authority to carry out more searches. The friend said the McCanns' new legal team, based in London, was working around the clock to "get up to speed on the case".


The McCanns' Portuguese lawyer, Carlos Pinto de Abreu, yesterday hit out at Portugal’s justice system in a scathing interview with a local newspaper.


"It is more appropriate to break down the patience of a believer and the reputation of an innocent man than to identify those responsible," he said.


A family friend said the speculation appeared to be taking its toll on the McCanns, who left Praia da Luz to return to their family home in Leicestershire at the weekend.


The source said: "Two days ago Gerry was telling everyone: 'I'm as strong as an ox'. Yesterday he was not quite as ebullient. They fear they will be summoned back at some stage.


They are innocent; they did not kill Madeleine and dispose of her body." It was expected that fresh searches would be ordered in Praia da Luz. Policia Judiciaria spokesman Olegario Sousa refused to confirm or deny the sites, but there was no sign of searches at the church yesterday.


Gerry's brother John McCann said: "There is so much speculation going on as to what the actual information the Portuguese police have.


"If they have got something that suggests Madeleine really is dead then for goodness sake tell the family who have the strongest feeling for this."


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