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McCann police to question 'Tapas Nine'

HOMEPAGE NEWS REPORTS INDEX GERRY& KATE PHOTOS NEWS DECEMBER 2007
Original Source: TELEGRAPH: 01 DECEMBER 2007
By Fiona Govan in Faro
Last Updated: 12:34am GMT 01/12/2007
 
Portuguese police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have been given permission to return to England to re-interview members of the group who were on holiday with her parents.

Detectives are expected to travel next week with a list of questions for the seven friends who dined with Kate and Gerry McCann on May 3, the night Madeleine vanished.

There is a possibility that Mr and Mrs McCann may also face further questioning.

The development will come as a blow to the McCanns who only hours earlier said they hoped that they would be cleared by Christmas of any involvement in their daughter's disappearance in the the Algarve.

Madeleine's parents, both 39, had expressed a belief that their status as arguidos - formal suspects - could be lifted after a Portuguese police team, who flew to England this week, were told by their British counterparts that forensic science tests had proved "inconclusive".

Writing on his internet blog, Mr McCann said: "We have been told that all the forensic test results are now available.

"As we have stated all along, we are confident that the results will no way incriminate us and hopefully everyone can concentrate on finding Madeleine and her abductor."

But following "crisis talks" over the future of the investigation at the regional headquarters of the Policia Judiciaria in Faro, detectives were finally granted permission to pursue their inquiries in Britain, according to reports on Portuguese television.

Detectives have long believed the key to unravelling the mystery of Madeleine's disappearance shortly before her fourth birthday could lie with the so-called Tapas Nine.

Jose Magalhaes e Menezes, the public prosecutor, had refused to sanction further questioning of the group until the full scientific test results were known.

The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said: "Kate and Gerry's friends have consistently said they are happy to be re-interviewed by police if necessary. Indeed, they are keen to help if it clears up any inconsistencies.

"They, like Gerry and Kate, have nothing to hide."

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