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DNA tests produce vital result
[Edited to]


Original Source: EXPRESS: 06-SEPTEMBER 2007
Thursday September 6,2007
By Martin Evans and Padraic Flanagan in Praia da Luz

DNA tests produce vital result  [Edited to] MADELEINE: ARREST IS NOW 'CLOSE

POLICE who are hunting for missing Madeleine McCann are expected to make an arrest in days.

The news comes after a long-awaited forensic breakthrough.

The results of DNA tests, which have taken a month to complete, were given to detectives in Portugal yesterday. They are understood to confirm police suspicions that Madeleine died in her parents’ holiday apartment.

But they are also expected to provide detectives with vital information about a new suspect they have been monitoring, allowing them to move in and make an arrest.

The results of the DNA analysis by British scientists has given the investigation renewed urgency after weeks of frustrating stagnation.

Experts at the Forensic Science Service (FSS) laboratory in Birmingham have examined various pieces of evidence collected by a team of British police officers working with specialist sniffer dogs.

Among the most important samples identified were tiny traces of blood, hair and saliva, collected in the McCanns’ holiday apartment at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz.

Tests were also undertaken on items recovered from a number of vehicles as well as samples taken from an area of coastline near to the Algarve resort.

While some work is still to be completed the Daily Express has learnt that “highly significant” initial results have been passed to the Portuguese Policia Judiciaria via their counterparts in Leicestershire – home of Gerry and Kate McCann.

A source linked to the investigation said: “The FSS has been in close liaison with Leicestershire Police on a regular basis and that information has been fed back to the Portuguese authorities.

“The Portuguese are leading on the investigation and they have to be the ones to act. Ultimately, what happens now will be up to the police in Portugal but people should keep a very close eye on events over there in the next few days.”

The official Portuguese police spokesman Oligario Sousa last night refused to confirm that the DNA results had been received.

He said: “The lines are the same since the beginning – they are all open. We said the results are important for one of the lines, the one that considers the hypothesis of the little girl being dead. At this moment we are paying special attention to the hypothesis of death.”

A spokeswoman for the FSS would only say the investigations were still ongoing.

But a Portuguese police source said: “The initial results have been received by the PJ and they are highly significant. It is what everyone in this investigation has been waiting for. We hope the case can now move forward very quickly, it is what everyone wants.”

The results had been expected several weeks ago, prompting senior officers on the Algarve to cancel all police leave and put staff on round-the-clock standby.

It was believed they had identified a suspect and were waiting for forensic confirmation before moving in.

However, with experts warning that the test results could take many more weeks to complete, the trail once again went cold.

The four-month investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance has been plagued by setbacks and frustration.

Gerry McCann, 39, recently voiced his growing concern at the lack of leads being identified but Portuguese detectives remained confident the breakthrough would come with the forensic evidence.

The McCanns apartment, 5A, from where Madeleine went missing on May 3, became the focus of the investigation after previous leads proved fruitless.

Last month, detectives ordered fresh searches of the property using a specialist team from the UK.

Two tiny specks of blood, which had previously been missed, were discovered on the wall and the curtain of the bedroom.

Unfortunately, the decision to re-let the apartment after the McCanns left, and the Portuguese police’s failure to preserve the crime scene, meant DNA analysis became extremely difficult.

However, the FSS laboratory in Birmingham is one of the most sophisticated centres of its kind anywhere in Europe and despite the fragile nature of the specimens, scientists continued to isolate the information needed.

Last night police on the Algarve were understood to be ready to arrest a suspect identified weeks ago. A source close to the investigation said: “It has seemed to many people that the police have been doing very little but this is because they are not allowed to discuss the investigation.

“But they have been working on a hypothesis for some time now and have identified a new suspect.”

The only official suspect in the case is British expat Robert Murat, 33. It is thought the breakthrough will officially clear him.


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