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Original Source: EXPRESS: MONDAY 11-SEPTEMBER 2007
Tuesday September 11,2007
By Padraic Flanagan in Praia da Luz

POWERFUL new evidence was put forward last night to suggest Madeleine McCann’s body was placed in a car hired by her parents 25 days after she vanished.

Police sources revealed they had obtained a full DNA profile match with the four-year-old from a previously undisclosed sample.

They said the presence of the full profile was the strongest evidence so far that Madeleine had been in the car. They also disclosed it was one of three DNA profiles matching Madeleine’s – two full and one partial – recovered by forensic investigators.

It followed earlier revelations that scientists had found Madeleine’s DNA “underneath the upholstery” in the family’s hire car.

Detectives believe they have now collected enough evidence for Mrs McCann to be charged with homicide by failing to prevent Madeleine’s death – the equivalent of manslaughter in British law.

It is thought likely that, along with her husband Gerry, she would also face a charge of concealing Madeleine’s body.

The dramatic shift in the focus of the investigation came after officers discovered “biological fluids” with an 80 per cent match to Madeleine’s DNA “underneath the upholstery in the boot” of the McCanns’ hired Renault Scenic.

According to police sources, the sample had deteriorated too badly to make a 100 per cent match possible.

But the find makes police believe it significantly strengthens their case against the couple.

A full DNA profile was obtained from a sample – possibly blood – found on a window sill in the Ocean World apartment where the family had been staying.

The second partial profile was obtained from the boot of the car.

Then police sources last night dramatically revealed for the first time the second full DNA profile match found in the car.

It was this latest evidence that detectives presented to the parents, both 39, during last week’s questioning.

In particular, they demanded to know why Madeleine’s blood was in the holiday flat and how traces of her DNA got into the car more than three weeks after she vanished.

The police file of evidence, which is thought to make a very strong case for the prosecution of Kate McCann, was expected to be placed in the hands of the public prosecutor in Portimao later today.

The file includes lengthy interviews with both part-time GP Kate McCann and Gerry after they were made official suspects in the case last week.

It also features a large amount of forensic evidence gathered in the McCanns’ apartment, hire car and surrounding area.

Other details are reported to include evidence gathered from surveillance by Portuguese and British police.

Portimao’s district attorney, Jose Cunha de Magalhaes e Meneses, who acts as the public prosecutor, will have to decide what, if any, charges will be brought against the parents.

The couple can remain as official suspects for up to eight months before police have to go before a judge and ask for an extension.

Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa, the spokesman for the Portuguese police investigation team, said: “At the moment the inquiry is being prepared to be handed to the prosecutor in charge of the case.

“He will analyse it and after this he will make his decision.”

Police chiefs decided to pass the file on to the prosecutor despite not having the full results from all the tests being carried out by the Forensic Science Service in Birmingham.

Mr Sousa added: “The information is that we have received part of the forensic results, so we are waiting for the rest.”

Despite some surprise that the police are prepared to forward their file before all the results are in, a source close to the investigation said all FSS results of substance had already been handed on to Leicester police and the Portuguese authorities.

“The bulk of the evidence has been sent on. In a case such as this, the evidence is assessed, rather like a batting order, on what is most important.

“We have reached the tail end now. But all the evidence is constantly being reviewed.”

The McCanns’ Portuguese lawyer, Carlos Pinto de Abreu, has said he has no idea how long it will take for the case to be concluded.

The McCanns are thought to have been told they could have to wait months before learning whether they are to be charged or cleared.

If charged, the couple could be remanded in “preventative custody” by a judge while they await trial.

After leaving their rented villa in Praia da Luz on Sunday, the McCanns said they would be happy to return at any time to Portugal if requested by the police.

But their decision to consult a British expert in extradition law has prompted speculation that they may fight an extradition order.

Michael Caplan, QC, has previously represented Chilean dictator General Pinochet in his battle to avoid extradition on charges of torture and human rights abuses.

But since the introduction of a European Arrest Warrant in 2004, it will be much harder for the McCanns to challenge any extradition request from a European neighbour.

Portuguese investigators are now thought to be focusing on the theory that Kate McCann killed her daughter by accident and covered up the death by claiming she had been abducted.

Her husband’s alleged involvement is less clear, but police sources say detectives believe he was an accessory to the killing and helped to hide Madeleine's body.

Reports yesterday suggested Madeleine was accidentally killed by an overdose of a sedative, by accidentally drinking medication or after being slapped, pushed or shaken.

Mrs McCann is the key suspect, it is reported, because British tourists claimed she was the parent who put Madeleine to bed while her husband relaxed by the pool or had a game of tennis.

Police are preparing to make a fresh sweep of searches in Praia da Luz, including the rented villa where the McCanns stayed after Madeleine disappeared, and an area south of the Ocean Club resort where the youngster disappeared 131 days ago.

Philomena McCann, Madeleine’s aunt, said it was “unbelievable” that Kate and Gerry McCann had been named as “arguidos”, or formal suspects, in her disappearance.

“The way the Portuguese have turned this investigation round, and they are no longer looking for a live child, they are assuming on spurious evidence that Madeleine is now dead, well, we don’t agree with that in any shape or form,” she said.

“We want the investigation changed round to look for Madeleine alive, as we reckon she is.”

Ms McCann said the couple would be “absolutely” co-operating with the Portuguese police and were prepared to return to undergo further questioning.

She also accused the police of “clutching at straws” to clear up the case. “Kate and Gerry have been a thorn in their sides for a long time,” she said. “What better than to cast them as the villains? No one believes the Portuguese police.”

The family’s decision to return to Britain was in large part based on their desire to maintain a sense of normality for their two youngest children, two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie.

Gerry McCann said: “We want the twins, as much as is reasonably possible, to live an ordinary life in their home country, and we want to consider the events of the last few days which have been so deeply disturbing.”

It is very unlikely the couple will bring the twins back to Portugal with them if police need them for further interviews, said a family friend.


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