Friday, October 29, 2010

McCanns' friends could be 'suspects' over 'discrepancies' in police statements

Last updated at 11:56 16 August 2007

The Portuguese policeman in charge of the search for Madeleine McCann says he expected new suspects in the case to be named soon.
Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa revealed there could soon be new 'arguidos' - the legal term for formal suspects who are legally obliged to answer police questions.
The claims come as Portuguese newspapers speculated that friends who were on holiday with Kate and Gerry McCann could be made "arguidos", but only over alleged discrepancies in their witness statements and not as suspects in Madeleine's disappearance on May 3.
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Rachael Oldfield and Fiona Payne who were with the McCanns in Portugal
The friends are now back in the UK but could be compelled by EU arrest warrants to return to Portugal for questioning if they do not agree to go voluntarily.
The only 'arguido' in the case so far has been Briton Robert Murat, who is expected to be cleared soon.
Police sources quoted in the Diario da Noticias newspaper said detectives believe there are discrepancies between the statements given by members of the McCann party on the timings of their checks on their children and the evidence of other witnesses in their holiday village.

Madeleine McCann: taken from her bed
But this could be due to confusion during a noisy and relaxed dinner at the complex's tapas restaurant.
The McCanns, both doctors, had brought Madeleine and their twins while friends Jane Tanner and her doctor partner Russell O'Brien had two children with them.
Recruitment consultant Rachael Oldfield and her doctor husband Matthew had a daughter of 21 months, while David Payne, a senior research fellow in cardiovascular sciences at Leicester University and his doctor wife Fiona had two children and were accompanied by Mrs Payne's mother Dianne Webster.
The couples were responsible for checking their own sleeping children and have insisted that they looked in on them every 30 minutes.
Mr McCann checked on Madeleine and her two younger siblings at 9.05pm and reported that all was well and his daughter fast asleep. About 10 to 15 minutes after he returned to the table, a friend, Jane Tanner, went to check.
She reported seeing a dark-haired man of about 35 carrying a child as she walked back to the bar afterwards but thought nothing of it.
At 10pm it was Kate McCann's turn to look in on the children. Moments later she ran back to the table screaming that Madeleine had been taken.
Other diners and staff at the Tapas restaurant dispute the timings, however. A barman said he saw only one man - believed to be Russell O'Brien - get up from the table.
An aerobics instructor claimed she spent 30 minutes at the table and saw no one check the children.
Najoua Chekaya was chatting with Gerry and Kate McCann and their friends when Madeleine, then three, vanished from the family's Algarve apartment in Praia da Luz.
That night, Ms Chekaya had organised a bar quiz at the Ocean Club resort where the McCanns were staying. Her evidence is understood to corroborate the McCanns' movements in the hour before the disappearance was discovered.
Ms Chekaya, 21, from Flitwick, Beds, is still working in Praia da Luz for Ocean Club operator Mark Warner. But she wrote to one friend on social networking site Facebook: "Missin you guys loads. dun with portugal now, wana cum home n have fun in flitwick!! neva thought id say that!!"
Portuguese laws make it an offence for witnesses in a criminal inquiry to discuss their evidence, but it is understood Ms Chekaya was invited by Mr McCann to join his table when the quiz finished at 9.30pm.
What happened between 9pm and 10pm is likely to hold the key to Madeleine's fate.

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