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Friend 'may have seen abduction'

Original Source: MID SUSSEX TIMES: 26 MAY 2007
26 May 2007
A friend of Madeleine McCann's parents may have seen her being carried away from her holiday apartment on the night she vanished.

A "witness" reported seeing a man carrying "an object that could have been ... a child" in the Algarve village of Praia Da Luz at 9.30pm on May 3 - while Madeleine's parents were finishing dinner nearby. A source indicated that the sighting - the most striking so far in the case - was made by one of the couple's party who has not been named.

Policia Judiciaria (PJ) finally released a description of the man seen that night in the face of possible legal action by Madeleine's parents. The information, likely to have been released early on as a matter of course in other countries, had to be sanctioned by the public prosecutor.

It followed an "amicable" meeting with senior Portuguese police and the McCanns believed to have taken place on Thursday. The couple also had discussions with British Ambassador John Buck and UK police at their apartment on Thursday.

The PJ has been heavily criticised in the British media over the past three weeks for not releasing more details of suspicious sightings in the face of the country's strict "secrecy of justice" laws which forbid the disclosure of information about an investigation.

It is thought the PJ have known about the sighting for three weeks but have not released it for that reason.

The description - which tallies closely to details being circulated at the time but never publicised - is of a white man, approximately 35 to 40 years old, of medium build and 5ft 10ins tall. He was described as wearing a dark jacket, light beige trousers and dark shoes.

Officers toured shops and bars in the village with a basic description in the days after Madeleine was snatched as well as one or more images of the man. But facial features were scant and one man described an e-fit he was shown by plain clothes officers as like "an egg with hair".

The announcement was welcomed as an apparent "new development" in the case by the McCanns. The couple spoke earlier of hopes that police would make an announcement soon to take the case forward.

A spokesman for the couple confirmed: "Gerry and Kate McCann are pleased to hear about what appears to be a new development. They will now be considering what the police have said before making any further comment. They are acutely aware that this is an ongoing investigation."


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