have key questions for
witnesses to the
disappearance of Madeleine
The Scotland Yard officers have analysed
minutely events which happened just
before, during and immediately after
Madeleine vanished on May 3, 2007 and
appear to be seeking new information and
clarification from important witnesses.
Among those scheduled for requestioning
Silvia Batista, who ran the service
and maintenance departments of the Ocean
Club at Praia da Luz on the Algarve
where the McCanns were staying.
Shortly after the alarm was raised, Mrs
Batista was contacted at her home in
nearby Lagos and immediately went back
When she arrived at a reception area she
Madeleine's father Gerry on his knees on
the floor crying out for help and
banging his hands on the floor.
A few minutues later she entered the
bedroom at apartment 5a and said that
the shutters were down, the windows
closed and the curtains slightly open.
Kate McCann has said that when she
arrived to find Madeleine gone, the
shutters were partly open in the
bedroom, leading her to believe that
Madeleine had been taken through the
In her statement Mrs Batista said Gerry
told her he had closed the windows as
their other two children, Sean and
Amelie, then 18 months, were still
asleep in separate cots in the bedroom.
Mrs Batista, a former receptionist at
the Ocean Club, worked closely with her
husband Joao, who was head of
maintenance and services.
In the past year both were made
redundant because of falling bookings at
the Ocean Club, which have been blamed
on the recession and publicity
surrounding Madeleine's disappearance.
Another facing requestioning is
John Hill, manager of the Ocean
When he arrived at the club after
receiving a call at 10.28pm from a
colleague, some 100 people were already
searching for Madeleine.
He also spoke with Kate and Gerry that
night in their apartment and helped
arrange for photos of the child to be
Mr Hill and his wife Donna printed
pictures after being given a memory
stick by Russell O'Brien, a friend of
the McCanns whose partner Jane Tanner's
picture of Madeleine gathering tennis
balls is well known.
is likely to be requestioned early in
the New Year.
Scotland Yard detectives are also
interested in claims that a set of keys
to apartment 5a, kept in the maintenance
section, went missing in the week that
Madeleine vanished, first revealed by
the Sunday Express last February when we
reported that a former maintenance
worker said the disappearance of the
keys had not been reported to the
Detectives also want their Portuguese
counterparts to interview Mario
Fernando, 47, who came forward last May
to say he saw a suspicious man wearing
sun glasses in a stairwell looking at
apartment 5a 24 hours before Madeleine
disappeared. The former Ocean Club
laundryman was collecting sheets when he
saw the man: "I saw the weird guy and we
nearly bumped into each other.
"He was embarrassed. He was nervous. He
was walking out from the hole under the
stairs and must have been much further
inside but had taken several steps back
after hearing me coming.
"He had a really fat face and had
two-tone sunglasses on."
Last week it was revealed that Robert
Murat was one of those on the Yard's
list of people it wants more information
Mr Murat told the Sunday Express he
would be happy to cooperate but has not
received anything official yet from the
Portuguese police have to conduct the
interviews but Scotland Yard officers
can sit in during questioning. Some
interviews were due to be held last week
but they now look likely to be held in
the New Year.
Former Scotland Yard murder detective
Peter Bleksley said that this next stage
of the investigation was a "logical
progression" for the police.
"I would think that they have been
concentrating on the timeline in the
review period and they have may have
come across some inconsistencies which
they want to look into," he said. "That
would be my thinking on this.
"They will want to know who was where,
who saw what and at what time and try to
work through the inconsistencies while
at the same time seeking new
"Going back to square one will have
formed a big part of the original review
which has now moved into the
investigative stage. It is a logical