Friends of Kate and Gerry McCann are to face fresh police interviews "within days", it was claimed yesterday.
Portuguese detectives will travel to Britain with formal letters requesting that police here quiz the seven friends who dined with the McCanns on the night Madeleine disappeared.
They do not, however, have official permission to request fresh interviews with the McCanns themselves, the Portuguese newspaper Jornal de Noticias reported.
The public prosecutor in the case, Jose Magalhaes e Meneses, has said he will not order new interrogations of the couple without stronger evidence against them.
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Interview: (clockwise from top left) Fiona Payne, Jane Tanner, Russell O' Brien, Rachael Oldfield
Read more...He is among the group expected to travel to Britain, alongside senior police officers from the Madeleine investigation.
They hope to sit in when the friends are interviewed, but would not be allowed to carry out the questioning themselves.
Portuguese police believe there are contradictions in the statements of the "Tapas Nine" - the McCanns, both 39, and their friends.
They consider the friends - Russell O'Brien, his partner Jane Tanner, David and Fiona Payne and her mother Dianne Webster, and Matthew and Rachael Oldfield - are "fundamental" to the investigation.
Police will hand their "letters of appeal" to Leicestershire police and will also contact forces in Devon and London, where some of the friends live.
Detectives have said they have a list of more than 100 questions which they want answered.
The McCanns were made official suspects - arguidos - in the case in September.
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Anguish: The McCanns and their two youngest childrenTheir friends have only ever been interviewed as witnesses but there have been claims that four of them fear they are about to be made arguidos, and that two wanted to change their statements.
The group have always denied reports that they want to change their version of events, but have said they would be happy to be reinterviewed.
Portugal's most senior police officer has admitted he does not know if there will ever be arrests in the investigation.
Alipio Ribeiro said in an interview: "A criminal investigation cannot produce miracles. We still do not have the solution."
Missing: Madeleine hasn't been seen since May 3
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-495334/McCann-friends-face-new-police-quiz.html#ixzz13pM4tG9n