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Three questioned over Madeleine

Original Source: TELEGRAPH: 16 MAY 2010
By Richard Edwards and Fiona Govan in Praia da Luz, and Stephanie Condron in London 16/05/2007

Updated headline

Madeleine suspect: I'm just a scapegoat

The formal suspect in the investigation into the abduction of Madeleine McCann said last night he had been made a "scapegoat for something I did not do".

Robert Murat, 33, yesterday returned to his villa, 100 yards from the apartments where the four-year-old was snatched.

Detectives had questioned Murat for 19 hours and searched five properties but said last night that they did not have enough evidence to formally arrest him.

British-born Murat said last night that he would only survive the ordeal if Madeleine's abductor was caught and his name cleared.

"This has ruined my life and made things very difficult for my family here and in Britain," he told Sky News in a telephone interview.

"The only way I will survive will be is if they catch Madeleine's abductor. I have been made a scapegoat for something I did not do."

It emerged yesterday that the first time the McCanns spoke to police, Murat was translating. He entered the crime scene several times.

Two other people questioned with Murat on Monday were his alleged German lover, Michaela Wulczuch, and her Portuguese husband Luis Antonio. Police are treating them both as witnesses. Ms Wulchzuch, an estate agent, and Mr Antonio, a pool cleaner, are married and live together in Lagos with their six-year-old daughter.

However, a former colleague told the Telegraph it is "open knowledge" that she has been Murat's lover for the past 14 months, and the three have been living together since Christmas.

Ms Wulczuch and Mr Antonio both confirmed they had been questioned but refused to comment further yesterday.

At a press conference in Portimao last night, Chief Inspector Olegaro Sousa admitted he could not say if Madeleine was still alive.

Police revealed last night they had taken a large amount of material belonging to Mr Murat for examination after carrying out searches. Items were removed from his mother's home, including three video tapes. Two cars are also being examined.

But Mr Sousa said they did not have enough evidence to arrest Murat and he was released and named under Portuguese law as having the status of "arguido" - a "formal suspect". He will report to police every five days and cannot leave the country. It also gives him access to an attorney and gives him the right to remain silent in police interviews.

Detectives were now awaiting the results of forensic examinations, which may take a week to return from a laboratory.

Mr Sousa said he did not know if Mr Murat, 33, had featured in any CCTV footage seized by police.

Asked if he was confident the results would enable him to bring charges, Mr Sousa said: "We have a suspect. Let's wait and see."

Mr Sousa said: "We are looking forward and making good efforts to find where she is."

Detectives are now retracing all clues and leads and trying to build up a profile of Murat's lifestyle. Sources said that detectives carried out surveillance on Murat for a week, but the trail to Madeleine remains cold. Murat himself called his mother on Monday night and told her he had "no idea" why he was questioned.

According to one report, Mr Murat suspected he was being watched by police on Sunday night after he noticed he was being followed by a car which he assumed was a police vehicle.

He went to police locally about it to confront them and was later taken in for questioning after police thought the surveillance operation had been compromised.

It was reported that during the subsequent search of the home he shares with his mother, Jennifer, a police diver entered the water tank but nothing was found. Two computers and a mobile phone were also reportedly taken.

Murat arrived home at around 7pm on the night Madeleine disappeared and his mother came home shortly after him, at 8pm.

Both are said to have told police that they spent the evening there together, and went to bed. The first they knew about Madeleine's disappearance was when they received a phone call from a family member at around 7am the following day telling them the girl was missing.

A neighbour, Maria Pereira, 37, said Murat had been a regular visitor to his alleged lover's flat, and claimed that he had been staying there since "at least Christmas".

Veronica Fennell, 46, worked with Murat and Ms Wulczuch at Remax, an estate agents, two years ago.

She told the Telegraph: "Robert was always a bit of a 'try hard', he wanted to be the focus of attention. He is a nice guy and I am shocked to see his name linked to this.

"Everyone knows they are together. It is unspoken, but widely known."


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