are trawling the phone records
of hundreds of residents in Praia da Luz in a major new
operation to find Madeleine McCann.
want to question everyone who made a telephone call after 9.30pm
on May 3 – the night she vanished.
The probe has
been ordered by Paulo Rebelo, the new police chief in charge of
He hopes it
will provide a breakthrough in the search for Madeleine, now in
its eighth month.
last night that Mr Rebelo was carrying out the massive trawl to
uncover evidence of a potential conspiracy.
officers are still working on the theory Madeleine, four, died
in an accident in her family’s Ocean Club apartment in the
Algarve resort. Her parents Kate and Gerry were named as
official suspects in September.
detectives want to establish if anyone was involved in an
operation to hide her body. The new initiative could also reveal
evidence of an abductor working with an accomplice or as part of
painstaking operation teams of officers have been handed
detailed lists of all calls made on mobile phones and landlines
in the area that night.
focusing on “suspicious activity” and are quizzing residents on
who they called and why.
In a bid to
eliminate them from their inquiries, detectives are checking
their stories against records they have obtained from Portuguese
around Praia da Luz has a population of 27,000 but it is
believed police have already narrowed down the calls made after
9.30pm that night to less than 1,000.
one local woman told how she was questioned by two plainclothes
Policia Judiciaria detectives
on Tuesday afternoon.
just a two-minute walk from the Ocean Club complex and yards
from the resort’s church where police have carried out two
searches in the hunt for Madeleine.
who asked not to be identified, said the officers quizzed her
about a single call she made on her mobile phone at 9.50pm on
She told the
Daily Express: “Two officers, whom I recognised because I had
seen them in town earlier in the investigation, knocked on my
door at 1pm.
carrying a file of papers full of names and telephone numbers.
The numbers related to both mobile phones and landlines.
“One of the
officers asked me to confirm my mobile phone number which I did.
to know about a call I had made on the phone at 9.50pm on the
night Madeleine disappeared.
me who I had telephoned that evening but it was some time ago
and I could not remember. One of the men read out a number which
I did not recognise at first but I later realised was my
“As they were
leaving my son asked them why they had come here now and they
said they were investigating all calls made within Praia da Luz
from 9.30pm onwards on May 3.
“It was clear
I could not help with their investigation but they are going
round to everyone in a process of elimination. I have spoken to
other people, and four of my immediate neighbours said they have
also been visited.”
Mr and Mrs
McCann categorically deny being involved in their daughter’s
disappearance. They insist that she is still alive and are
convinced Madeleine was taken by an abductor.
the couple were said to be “encouraged” by the development.
Their spokesman Clarence Mitchell said:
appear to be a totally new line of inquiry.
possible one of those phone calls made in Praia da Luz that
night may hold the key to this.
“At 9.30pm we
believe Madeleine would have been with her abductor in the Praia
da Luz area. It is obviously possible whoever took her called
someone – a possible accomplice. A record of that call will
Gerry are encouraged by this police work because it shows the
investigation is now active and thorough.
appear to be doing a very thorough job of tracking down people
who were in the area at the time. Clearly Paulo Rebelo seems
determined to leave no stone unturned.
“That is good
news for them because – as they are entirely innocent – they are
confident a thorough investigation can only lead to them being
eliminated as suspects. Crucially they also hope it may lead to
them being reunited with Madeleine.’’
added: “It is possible the police have received information that
has led to them targeting calls made after 9.30pm. If they have
we are not aware of it, but it is an interesting development.’’
said the McCanns’ mobile phones were seized by police the night
Madeleine went missing. Officers have had seven months to
investigate all their calls thoroughly.
also studied records of British expat Robert Murat – the only
other official suspect in the case. Detectives investigated
phone calls made between Murat, 34, and Russian computer expert
Sergey Malinka on the night of May 3.