Police files on the disappearance of Madeleine McCann are likely to remain secret for another three months, according to the spokesman for the girl’s parents. Lawyers for official suspect Robert Murat are seeking to have the files opened up because it is now eight months since he was named as an “arguido”.
But on Friday, Portuguese detectives asked for the case’s secrecy limit to be extended beyond the usual eight-month limit that starts once police have identified a formal suspect.
A spokesman for Kate and Gerry McCann, said the couple expected authorities to agree to the extension. He went on to say that they are working on the basis that there will be another three months of official secrecy.
Portuguese law prevents the McCanns from speaking about police investigations into the disappearance of their daughter.
Madeleine vanished from the family’s holiday apartment in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz on May 3.
Robert Murat, a British man who lives near the apartment from which Madeleine disappeared, has denied any involvement in the case. Asked whether his client would be cleared of his status as a formal suspect, his lawyer said that he didn’t know anything, but would like the arguido status to be lifted.
On Sunday 13th January, a five-year-old girl went missing from Huelva, on the Spanish border, 120 miles from where Maddie disappeared.
Mari Luz Cortes’s family believe she was kidnapped outside her home in Huelva, 25 miles from the border with Portugal. Mari was last seen at a sweet stall 100 yards from her home on Sunday afternoon after going to buy a packet of crisps from a local shop. Her family, who raised the alarm after searching for her themselves when she failed to return, are said to fear she has been abducted.
Officers have been scouring the area for the girl, and Portuguese police have also been carrying out searches on their side of the border.
The McCanns’ spokesman has said there were ‘comparisons’ that could be made, but also said that it was too early to say if the two cases were linked. He added that detective agency Metodo 3 are working very closely with the Spanish police in the first instance, and with the family to establish whether there are any links or similarities
Meanwhile, investigators in Portuguese are planning to re-interview friends of the McCanns. The friends were on holiday with the McCann family in Praia da Luz when Maddie vanished. They are key witnesses in the case and reports claim Portuguese detectives are prepared to fly to the UK to sit in on fresh questioning of them by British police.
Portuguese authorities are also seeking the assistance of a Europe-wide body in securing the help of the authorities in Britain. The Portuguese public prosecutor contacted Eurojust – the judicial co-operation agency – at the beginning of January. A spokesman for Eurojust has confirmed that they have been asked to be the go-between for the Portuguese and the UK authorities, but will not be releasing any details.
A new sketch of the man who could be behind the abduction of Madeleine McCann has been revealed. A police artist drew the likeness after a Sunday tabloid tracked down a holidaymaker, Gail Cooper, who reported seeing a ‘creepy man’ hanging around the apartments in Praia da Luz, Portugal, prior to the abduction on May 3 last year, and it has also been revealed that a 12-year-old girl, has come forward to back up her story.
The photofit shows a man with long hair, bushy eyebrows and a moustache.
A friend of the McCanns – Jane Tanner – who gave a description to police of someone she spotted carrying a child from the Algarve resort on the night Madeleine vanished – told the paper the new picture resembled the man she saw.
The McCanns’ spokesman has said that the image had been passed to police and the family believe the picture could be an important breakthrough in the hunt for Madeleine.
Portuguese police have known about Gail Cooper’s description since May, but it has only now been made public after the McCann’s own investigators began to re-interview witnesses.