Portuguese police appeared to take a step back from charging Madeleine McCann's
parents last night after a senior officer said they had "nothing concrete" to
implicate them in her disappearance.
Detectives may be depending on Kate and Gerry McCann making a confession, a
Portuguese newspaper reported. They were declared formal suspects a week ago,
and are now back in Britain.
A "high-ranking" officer in the Policia Judiciaria (PJ) - Portugal's criminal
investigation department - said the evidence was not even strong enough to prove
whether Madeleine was dead.
The unnamed PJ officer told the 24 Horas newspaper yesterday: "We have nothing
concrete. There are a lot of indications, but without more elements it's
impossible to determine what happened in those four vital hours [between 6pm and
10pm on the night of May 3, the night Madeleine disappeared].
"Even if the blood and traces gathered in the car or in the apartment were
confirmed to correspond 100 per cent to the little girl's DNA, that wouldn't
prove anything. . . just that the body had been transferred in the vehicle."
Portuguese newspapers claimed yesterday that police were investigating whether
there was any possibility of "accomplices" in the alleged disposal of
Madeleine's body and concoction of a false story.
It emerged that detectives want to re-interview some of the friends with whom
the McCanns dined on May 3, to resolve certain alleged discrepancies in their
versions of events.
Detectives have admitted that the girl's body may "no longer exist", according
to the Diario de Noticias.
One theory is that her body was thrown out to sea in a bag weighted with stones,
from a yacht, the paper claimed without specifying its source. The boat is
allegedly based at a marina just a short drive from Praia da Luz, it reported.
It has also been claimed that the Forensic Science Service is examining alleged
bloodstains from the apartment next to the McCanns'. Police believe they could
hold the key to Madeleine's whereabouts after she vanished, the London Evening
On Tuesday, the PJ formally passed a 4,000-page dossier of evidence to the
Algarve-based public prosecutor.
The judge now has until next Thursday to consider several requests made by the
prosecutor, including one for the seizure of Mrs McCann's personal diary,
Intense attention has focused on what police found in the hire car rented by
Madeleine's parents 25 days after she went missing.
Senior sources linked to the investigation said police had discovered "bodily
fluids" - not blood - with an 88 per cent match to Madeleine's DNA in the boot.
Toxicological tests on the liquid showed that Madeleine had consumed a
"significant" quantity of sleeping tablets and may have overdosed, the French
newspaper France Soir reported, citing unnamed sources in Portugal. British
forensic science experts have cast doubt on the claim.
The McCanns spent yesterday with their lawyers, Kingsley Napley.
Mr McCann hit out at the "ludicrous accusations" that he and his wife were
involved in their daughter's death. He said he and his wife knew they were
innocent but were frightened and had been "backed into a corner".