British police have urged Portuguese authorities to reopen the case into
Madeleine McCann's disappearance, claiming detectives have uncovered
leads to finding her alive
British police have urged Portugues
authorities to reopen the case into Madeleine McCann's
disappearance, claiming detectives have uncovered leads to
finding her alive Photo: PA
Here are some of the key questions surrounding her disappearance from
her parent's holiday flat in Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007:
If Madeleine id dead,
where is her body?
Various theories have been put forward, however none have stood up to
closer scrutiny. One detective was quoted not long after the
three-year-old disappeared as saying that her body was dumped at sea in
a bag weighted with stones. Police are said to have at one point
considered the possibility the McCanns somehow recruited an accomplice
to help smuggle the body on to a boat.
Another theory is that Madeleine was buried beneath major roadworks. The
area around the Nossa Senhora da Luz church, where the McCanns regularly
prayed, was dug up for water pipes around the time Madeleine
disappeared. Officials dismissed this theory because the holes were just
27 in deep and 16 in wide.
If she is alive,
where could she be?
There have been dozens of alleged sightings of Madeleine since her
disappearance on May 3, 2007. There were several unconfirmed sightings
Portugal in the months immediately afterwards, before the focus switched
to Morocco, where a string of people claimed to have seen the
three-year-old. Since then, witnesses have claimed to have spotted her
in Belgium, Malta, Spain, Bosnia, France, Britain, Brazil, the
Netherlands, New Zealand and India.
Who is responsible
for her disappearance?
There have been numerous suspects in the case, some named individuals –
including Kate and Gerry McCann themselves – and several people whose
descriptions were circulated following Madeleine’s disappearance. All
the named suspects have been ruled out and released without charge. The
McCann’s arguido status was lifted when Portuguese police shelved their
investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance in July 2008.
E-fits of unidentified suspects linked to the disappearance – ranging
from a Victoria Beckham lookalike in Barcelona suspected of trying to
buy a daughter to a moustached man apparently seen watching the McCann’s
apartment – have failed to yield anything concrete. Reports have tried
to link numerous known paedophiles to the case but no convincing
evidence has ever been uncovered.
What happened to
Robert Murat, the first person to be named as a suspect?
Murat, who lived close to the Praia da Luz apartment in Portugal where
Madeleine went missing in May 2007, was the first formal suspect, or
arguido, in the McCann case. He denied any involvement in her
disappearance and was later released without charge by Portuguese
police. In July 2008 he accepted a settlement of £600,000 in libel
damages over claims in nearly 100 articles.
Has DNA evidence not
produced any leads?
Shortly after Madeleine’s disappearance, reports suggested that traces
of the toddler’s DNA had been found in the McCann’s apartment and car
rented 25 days after her disappearance. This played a large role in the
decision by police to name them as suspects. However, It turned out the
analysis conducted in the UK was "inconclusive" and there was no
foundation for making that allegation. The McCann’s were awarded
hundreds of thousands of pounds in libel damages in 2008 over reports
concerning the evidence.
British detectives have expressed dismay over flaws in the Portuguese
police’s investigation, in which dozens of people were allowed to
trample over the crime scene and evidence was found to be contaminated
with cigarette ash. Files relating to the case also disclosed that
several other holidaymakers stayed in the flat from which Madeleine
disappeared while it was still designated as a crime scene.
Who can solve the
The official investigation was shelved in July 2008 but Scotland Yard's
review of the case, Operation Grange, was launched last year when David
Cameron responded to a plea from Madeleine's parents. The Metropolitan
Police is urging Portuguese authorities to reopen the case, claiming it
has identified new leads after spending £2 million reinvestigating the
evidence. A team of more than 30 officers involved in the case had been
out to Portugal seven times, including a visit to the family's holiday
flat in Praia da Luz.
Is there any chance
that Madeleine in alive?
Scotland Yard says there are 195 potential leads to finding her alive.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said he believed her
disappearance was a stranger abduction, as he said there were 195
"investigative opportunities". He said "evidence that she is alive stems
from the forensic view of the timeline" that there was the opportunity
for her to be taken. Investigations show "there do appear to be gaps",