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'Wall of silence' frustrates Madeleine's parents

Original Source: TELEGRAPH:21 MAY 2010
25/05/2007 By Richard Edwards and Fiona Govan in Praia da Luz
The parents of Madeleine McCann expressed their frustrations for the first time yesterday at a "wall of silence" being put up by police chiefs investigating their daughter's disappearance.

Three weeks after Madeleine went missing, detectives have still not reported any developments in their inquiry.

Police have stood accused of hiding behind judicial privacy laws in Portugal, which do not allow details of a continuing investigation to be released apart from under exceptional circumstances.

Kate and Gerry McCann have praised detectives for their hard work and determination in the search. However, they said they had been left in the dark about any progress.

A source close to the family said: "At every stage throughout this they have been feeding their own questions and concerns back to the investigating authorities through British police and in turn the Portuguese. While they remain content with the overall thrust of the investigation, they do at times hope their questions are addressed more quickly.

"It is fair to say that they are frustrated at the Portuguese system and the many delays it causes."

Police chief Olegaro Sousa said that under Portuguese law the family have to be kept "afar" from the investigation.

Meanwhile, the McCanns continue to drive their own worldwide campaign to raise awareness of Madeleine's disappearance. The family released a new photograph of Madeleine yesterday - the last one taken before she was abducted on May 3.

Mr McCann last night also wrote his first blog on the campaign website - It described their trip to the holy shrine of Fatima and gave an insight into their continued "mission" to spread the appeal for help across Europe.

It has emerged that Mr and Mrs McCann have been offered the use of private jets by a billionaire British businessman to make the trips.

Discussions are also under way with Warner Brothers cinemas to play an appeal video of Madeleine before every film shown worldwide.

The family source added: "Kate and Gerry are considering how they can move things forward themselves. They want to do positive things in their search."

Clarence Mitchell, the family's official spokesman, said: "The only thing that would really make them happy is Madeleine's safe return and every parent would understand that."

Police sources said last night that new leads had emerged from an appeal to holidaymakers who visited Praia da Luz in the two weeks prior to the kidnap to send their holiday pictures to British police.

Officers from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Group had received 300 photographs in the first two days of the appeal.

Analysts were looking for strangers in the background, who would be cross-referenced against a database of images of known British paedophiles and other criminals.

Meanwhile, Portuguese police are investigating the attempted abduction on Christmas Day, in a village 30 miles from Praia da Luz, of Carolina Santos, three, who has a passing resemblance to Madeleine - though they have not linked the cases.

Yesterday, her parents, Abel, 40, and Lina, 28, said they had left her playing at the front of their roadside café. Luckily they saw her being taken by a man, who they said looked Moroccan. They shouted, causing him to flee.


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