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Madeleine McCann: Police to return to Portugal as search reaches 'make or break' moment



Original Source: Mirror 22 August 2014

Aug 22, 2014 22:30
By Russell Myers


Up to seven officers from Scotland Yard's Operation Grange will hold meetings with senior Portuguese investigators


Search: Kate and Gerry McCann haven't given up hope of finding vanished daughter


British police searching for missing Madeleine McCann are poised to return to Portugal to try to solve the seven-year riddle of the girl’s disappearance.


After weeks of tense negotiations, a team of Scotland Yard detectives will travel to the seaside resort of Praia da Luz next month.


The latest development is described by sources close to the investigation as a “make-or-break moment”.


Up to seven officers from Operation Grange will hold meetings with senior Portuguese investigators.


It is understood they have been granted permission to interview up to seven key suspects identified earlier this year – three of whom will be questioned for a second time.


The last time the Met officers were in Portugal, in May this year, they conducted interviews with four people, known as arguidos.


The Portuguese term – normally translated as “named suspect” or “formal suspect” – refers to someone who is treated by Portuguese police as more than a witness, but has not been arrested or charged.


One of them, Russian-born Sergey Malinka, has been told he is no longer under suspicion.

 Missing: Maddie

But now detectives have been given the go-ahead to question the remaining suspects they believe hold vital information that could help them crack the case.


Analysis of mobile phone data suggests at least three of them were close to the scene when three-year-old Madeleine vanished at the resort on May 3, 2007, and were in contact in the hours that followed.


A source said: “Thousands of pieces of evidence have been re-examined by the Scotland Yard team to get to this stage. This is far from a scatter-gun approach.


“The detectives are acutely aware there is a finite amount of money for the investigation and that they need results. It is hoped they are on the right track to achieving those objectives.”


Portuguese authorities are also understood to have granted permission for Yard officers to investigate new “areas of interest”.


In May, a team of detectives led by Det Chief Inspector Andy Redwood travelled to the Algarve to supervise digs on scrubland near the resort.


 Yard officers: Detective Chief Inspector Redwood leads policemen away from station in Faro

But after eight days of searches, using sniffer dogs and ground-penetrating radar, nothing was found.

Portuguese sources have described the Met probe, which has so far cost UK taxpayers more than £6million, as a senseless waste of time.

Madeleine’s parents Kate, 46, and Gerry, 45, from Rothley, Leics, are not expected to travel to Portugal but are being kept informed of developments.



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