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Original Source: EXPRESS: - 01 -02- 03 - MONDAY 17 DECEMBER 2008

Monday December 17,2007
By David Pilditch in Praia da Luz


Detectives trying to solve the mystery of Madeleine McCann have questioned a crucial witness for the third time.

Portuguese police believe he could prove that her parents are lying over her disappearance.

Yesterday it emerged that the witness -  a waiter at the tapas restaurant where Kate and Gerry McCann dined with their friends every night - ? has provided investigators with key evidence.

The Portuguese man is said to have been the first person to see Kate McCann as she raised the alarm after discovering her daughter had gone missing from the family - holiday apartment in Praia da Luz. He has allegedly given a dramatically different account of the events on May 3 from statements made by the McCann's and their friends.
It is because the waiter's testimony is considered so critical that he has been interviewed three times.

The latest interview took place just days ago as detectives were drawing up a list of questions to be put to the so-called Tapas Nine. The group are set to be interviewed in Britain by police in the presence of the Portuguese officers heading the case.

As part of the process, the McCann's and their friends could later be summoned back to Portugal for a face-to-face showdown with the witness.

In Portugal, detectives can set up a confrontation between key witnesses and suspects to find out who is telling the truth.

Yesterday one report in Portugal said: The employee's testimony will be one of the trump cards in clearing up the McCann's contradictions and those of their friends.

The witness claimed that instead of running back to the tapas restaurant, which is part of the Ocean Club complex where they were staying, Kate raised the alarm from the balcony of her apartment.

He told investigators that Kate screamed: They taken her. They've taken her.

A series of other witnesses have since come forward to back his evidence, including British nanny Charlotte Pennington, 20.

Kate's first words became a central issue as they appeared to indicate she had already rejected the possibility that Madeleine had simply wandered off. Police questioned why the 39-year-old GP was so certain that her daughter had been abducted, and regard it as possible evidence that she was already engaged in a cover-up.

In contrast, friends insisted that rather than shouting from the balcony, Kate ran straight back to the restaurant crying: Madeleine's gone. Madeleine's gone.

The waiter also disputes the Tapas Nine's claims that they were taking it in turns to check on their children every half an hour.

He is said to have told police that members of the party left the table much less frequently.

Yesterday a report in respected Portuguese newspaper Diario de Noticias said: This waiter is a witness considered crucial to the investigation.

The investigators want to find out about what happened during dinner  the conversations and the McCann's behaviour as well as their alleged trips to the apartment.

The employee still insists it is not true that the child's parents checked their children every half hour.

Alleged inconsistencies in the Tapas Nine's evidence have been raised by a series of independent witnesses.

Another waiter at the tapas restaurant, Jose Baptista, told The Daily Express that only male members of the party
had left the table during the evening.

His evidence led Portuguese detectives to question why it was Kate who discovered her daughter had vanished.

But last night the McCann's spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, dismissed reports of the waiter's testimony as all lies .

He conceded that Kate may have said They've taken her at some point but they were not her first words.

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He said: Kate has consistently and categorically absolutely denied she said that
on the verandah. She may have said it at some stage as a general remark, but she did not run out with this phrase.

Whoever this guy is, and if he is saying this, he is either making it up or he is mistaken.

Kate, Gerry and their friends told the truth. They will continue to maintain their stories, because it is the truth. Whatever this guy is saying we reject it - it is not true.


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