Last updated at 17:25 13 July 2007
The chief suspect in the Madeleine McCann disappearance has faced a tough five-hour grilling from friends of the parents who accuse him of hanging around the family's apartment on the night of her disappearance.
Fiona Payne, Rachael Oldfield and Russell O'Brien - who were with the McCanns when Madeleine vanished ? grilled Murat for five hours in interviews arranged by Portuguese police.
Robert Murat has always maintained he was at home with his elderly mother all evening when the four-year-old was snatched from her bed on May 3.
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Rachael Oldfield, Fiona Payne and Russell O'Brien arrive to be interviewed by policePortuguese detectives quizzed Murat and the friends together in an attempt to thrash out the possible contradictions in their accounts.
The group of friends, which include two doctors, flew back into Portugal this week and were reinterviewed by detectives together with Murat at a police station in Portimao, 40 miles from Praia Da Luz.
Up to 25 people including tourists, hotel staff and locals joined the initial search for Madeleine after her parents realised she had been taken while they dined a few hundred yards away in the resort of Praia Da Luz.
But property developer Murat told police he had spent the entire evening with his 71-year-old mother Jenny at the villa they share a short walk from the McCanns' holiday flat.
He says he first went to the apartment the following morning to offer his services in the search.
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Robert Murat attends the police station in PortimaoMurat, who strenuously denies any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance, was arrested 11 days after she vanished and remains the only formal suspect in the investigation.
A police source told Portuguese newspaper 24 Hours: "Because there was a disagreement between the witnesses and the suspect, it is normal in Portugal for the two sides to be brought together to try and find the truth.
"This is what happened on Wednesday."
Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa, spokesman for the Portuguese police, said officers had scheduled a series of interviews throughout this week.
Missing: Madeleine McCannMurat's German girlfriend Michaela Walczuch and her estranged Portuguese husband Luis Antonio were questioned as witnesses soon after Madeleine's disappearance are among those expected to be reinterviewed.
Madeleine's father, Gerry McCann, returned to the UK for a short trip on Thursday. He is expected to visit London for a series of meetings and the family home in Rothley, Leicestershire.
The 39-year-old consultant surgeon said that he and his wife, Kate, had been very distressed to receive a call earlier this week after a false report that police searching for Madeleine had discovered a body.
He said: "Such calls and rumours are distressing even though we know that if it does not come through an official source not to place much emphasis on it."
Meanwhile, a French man said to be behind Madeleine's disappearance was named yesterday as Bernard Alapetite.
Spanish freelance journalist Antonio Toscano has for several weeks claimed that a man with child pornography convictions whom he described only as the "Frenchman" took the youngster on behalf of an international paedophile network.
Yesterday Alapetite identified himself as "the Frenchman" but rubbished the claims against him, explaining he was in northern Europe when Madeleine was snatched and has nothing to do with her disappearance.
"I was in Paris on May 3, Brussels on May 4, Namur on May 5 and Paris on May 6 when I voted in the French presidential elections,' he was quoted on the internet site SOS Madeleine.
"I don't understand why Mr Toscano is making these accusations against me."
Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa has already dismissed Toscano's claims as being "not very strong, not consistent."
Alapetite was arrested in June 1997 in La Baule on France's Atlantic coast and sentenced to three years in jail for his part in the distribution of child sex
• The father of missing Madeleine McCann received a standing ovation as he appeared before police officers all over the country to thank them for their help in the search for his daughter and urged them not to give up.
Gerry McCann, wiping away tears after a poignant video of his daughter was shown to officers at the Police Bravery Awards at the Dorchester Hotel in London said he and his wife were now fully aware of the police's "sterling work".
His daughter, four-year-old Madeleine, was snatched from her bed as she slept in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz 71 days ago.
Mr McCann told his audience: "Over the past 10 weeks Kate and I have been reminded of what a wonderful job you do.
"The role of our forces is often not appreciated until you really need their help.
"Kate and I would like to thank all of the police officers in the UK that were involved in the operation to find Madeleine for their sterling work."
He also praised the Portuguese police and other forces in countries where Madeleine has been sighted for their "commitment and co-operation."
He said: "It's been 70 days since Madeleine was snatched from her bed as she slept. Each of those 70 days has been unbearable for her family. No child should be separated from its family in such a way."
He once again praised the "support and kind words" he and his family have received from members of the public, adding: "We will not give up and we will not stop searching for her."
He asked police and the public to continue to support him and his wife as they search for their daughter.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-467305/Hunt-Madeleine-family-friends-confront-prime-suspect.html#ixzz13lpfwCMY