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Gag Bars McCann's From Answering New Madeleine Body Dumping Claim

By VANESSA ALLEN - Last updated at 10:05am on 29th September 2007 

•Portuguese papers claim Kate McCann killed Madeleine while Gerry played tennis


•Couple ‘then hid the child’s body in a fridge and later disposed of it in Spain’


•McCann spokesman Clarence Mitchell said the reports were ‘utterly ludicrous’


Police in Portugal believe Kate McCann killed her daughter Madeleine in a 90-minute “gap” while her husband played tennis, it has been claimed.


Detectives think the child’s body was stored in a fridge and moved to “various locations” around the family’s holiday resort of Praia da Luz before it was placed in the boot of her parents’ hire car and dumped, sources told a Portuguese newspaper.


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Kate and Gerry McCann while in Spain this August. The Portuguese media claims they dumped Madeleine’s body while there


The latest lurid allegations were dismissed as “ludicrous” by the McCann’s spokesman Clarence Mitchell, who said they caused “real pain and hurt” to the four-year-old’s parents.


After months of rumours from inside the police investigation, Mr Mitchell said: “It’s just utterly ridiculous allegation after allegation. Surely it is time for this to stop. It’s ludicrous.”


Madeleine’s parents are unable to answer the claims, however, because they are under threat of a 12-month jail sentence if they speak publicly about their daughter, it has been claimed.


Friends said the couple have had to turn down scores of interview requests from around the world, including one from legendary U.S. broadcaster Barbara Walters, since they were made official suspects on September 7.


Under Portuguese laws, they could face criminal charges or even a prison sentence if they speak out.


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Madeleine is still missing


Yesterday the Portuguese paper Diario de Noticias said detectives think Madeleine died between 7pm and 8.30pm on May 3.


David Payne, a friend of Kate and Gerry McCann, said he saw Mrs McCann put their three children to bed at about 7pm, and the couple joined friends for dinner at about 8.30pm.


A police source told the paper that Mr McCann was seen playing tennis during the 90-minute “gap” before Mrs McCann was seen again, meaning she was alone with Madeleine and two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie.


But friends insisted the couple had both played tennis, then put the children to bed together before joining their friends for dinner.


A gag order is preventing Kate McCann from talking to journalists like Barbara Walters


Police are convinced that Madeleine died by accident at the hands of her mother, and that Mr McCann helped to cover up the death.


The source said they believed the child’s body “passed through various-locations” before it was put in the boot of the Renault Scenic hired three weeks after Madeleine vanished. Police are “carrying out non-visible operations and locating apartments with fridges”, the source said.


A family friend ridiculed the suggestion that Madeleine’s body could have been stored in a fridge, saying: “Have you seen the size of the fridges in those apartments? Of course they did not stuff her in a fridge.”


Any search of the Ocean Club complex in Praia da Luz would be certain to include the apartments where the family’s friends stayed during the holiday.


Police are desperate to break a perceived “pact of silence” between the friends, and have made a series of slurs against them and the McCanns in a bid to panic them into speaking out.


On Wednesday police sources briefed Portuguese journalists that their counterparts in Spain were investigating a “suspicious” trip to Huelva by the McCanns – a claim which was denied outright as “totally false” by Spanish authorities yesterday.


The denial adds weight to the McCanns’ belief that they are victims of a smear campaign fuelled by the Portuguese police.


The McCanns, both 39, are preparing for another painful milestone tomorrow, which will be the 150th day since Madeleine disappeared.


But the couple secured a victory yesterday when Portugal said it would push for the creation of an EU-wide alert system for missing children.


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