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Madeleine suspect details 'vague'

Original Source: BBC: 27 MAY 2007
Sunday, 27 May 2007
The McCanns have drawn strength from their twins

The only official suspect in the hunt for Madeleine McCann has criticised a Portuguese police description of a man seen on the night she went missing.

Briton Robert Murat says the details released by detectives were too vague to rule him out of the investigation.

The man was described as white, 5ft 10ins, medium build with short hair.

Madeleine's father, Gerry, said the sighting of the man "with what appeared to be a child in his arms" was "significant" to his daughter's case.

Portuguese police said they released the description of the man seen on the night the four-year-old was taken from the Praia da Luz apartment in the Algarve, Portugal, in order to eliminate false leads.

Mr Murat said: "It isn't me. But the description is so vague that it won't put me out of the picture."

"I hope that I will soon be in a position to clear my name."

He denies any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance on the night of 3 May.

Mr Murat has been questioned by police but has not been charged.

It is understood it was a friend of the McCanns who might have seen a man carrying Madeleine on the night she disappeared.

It has been suggested pressure may have been brought to bear on the Portugese authorities to release more information by Chancellor Gordon Brown after it was revealed he had been in touch with the McCanns.

Mr Brown had several telephone conversations with Mr McCann, according to a family spokesman, in which he offered the couple "his full support" in their efforts to find their daughter.

Mr McCann and his wife Kate have welcomed the release of the information which came following a meeting with Portuguese police.

'Terrifying moment'

Mrs McCann told how she and her husband cannot now bear to be parted from their two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie at night now and sleep with them in their bed.

Mrs McCann said: "They help us to get through this. We are a strong family and they were so close to Madeleine, only 20 months apart."

Mrs McCann, 38, described how the couple had struggled to have children and had waited five years for a baby.

When Madeleine arrived she was "absolutely everything" to them, she said.

Describing the "terrifying" moment Madeleine had been taken, she said: "You just don't expect in a million years that this could happen."

But Mr McCann said he still "truly believed" his daughter was alive.

"If she was dead I think the search was so extensive they would have found something," he said.

"The worst feeling is the complete helplessness."

The couple now intend to set off on a European tour to raise the profile of their hunt for their daughter.

Before they leave Portugal though a child psychologist will help the couple tell the twins that Madeleine is not on holiday.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall also said on Saturday they had been following the case "closely and with deep concern" and "fervently hoped" Madeleine would be reunited with her family.

A Clarence House statement said: "Their Royal Highnesses' thoughts and prayers will remain with Mr and Doctor McCann at this very difficult time."

Madeleine, from Rothley, Leicestershire, was abducted from her bed in the Algarve resort as her parents ate dinner at a nearby tapas restaurant.


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