Monday, November 1, 2010

McCanns take Madeleine search to Germany

The anguished parents of missing Madeleine McCann will fly to Germany today to continue the search for their daughter.

Kate and Gerry McCann have already been to Spain and Italy as they scour Europe for information about their four-year-old daughter, who was abducted 33 days ago.

Last night they recorded an appeal for Crimewatch from the Algarve town of Praia da Luz which will be aired on the BBC this evening.

Holding a small pair of pink and flowery pyjamas, Mrs McCann described exactly what Madeleine was wearing when she was snatched on May 3.

Looking strained, she spoke in detail about the light pink top with capped sleeves and a picture of the cartoon character Eeyore curled up – the words “Sleepy Eeyore” written underneath.

Next she produced white cotton pyjama bottoms, covered with small flowers and another Eeyore motif on the right leg.

But the outfit she was holding so carefully in her lap was not Madeleine’s, but Amelie’s, her two-year-old younger sister.

Today the McCanns will leave Amelie and her twin brother Sean as they do all they can to bring Madeleine home.

They will fly to Berlin in a private jet offered by an anonymous donor for a series of meetings and interviews.

It is Mr McCann’s 39th birthday today but the distraught father said he had completely forgotten about it, dismissing it as “insignificant”.

Before they leave, the McCanns hope to meet Portuguese police officials for an update on the investigation after nearly two weeks without a face-to-face encounter.

The last meeting was on May 24 when they pressurised the authorities to release a public description of the suspect the couple had known about for 22 days.

Plans for another meeting last week fell through.

Mr and Mrs McCann do not want to be seen openly criticising the Portuguese authorities but expressed “frustration” at progress in the early stages.

During an interview with a US television network, Mr McCann said: “We have had periods of information voids. And that naturally leads us to speculate about what has happened or hasn’t – or could have been happening. And that really doesn’t help Kate and I.”

But the family spokesman insisted: “They are very happy with the level of co-operation they are receiving from the Portuguese authorities via the British police but they are always keen to have further meetings to be updated as often as possible.”

Although dialogue with the Portuguese is infrequent, Mr and Mrs McCann are in regular contact with senior investigating officers from Leicestershire police.

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Eyre from Leicestershire Constabulary has spoken to the family on several occasions.

In Germany, they hope to meet Germany’s Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries or the Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, before heading to Amsterdam.

The couple lived with Madeleine in the Netherlands for a year when Mrs McCann was pregnant with the twins.

After a series of interviews on Thursday, they will fly back to the Algarve in time for a jazz concert in their daughter’s name in Lagos.

Plans are also being put in place for a final trip to Rabat in Morocco, possibly as soon as Sunday.

The couple feel Morocco is important because of its proximity to southern Europe. Several ferries a day leave from Tarifa in Spain for the 35-minute crossing to Tangiers.

Morocco has surfaced repeatedly in the hunt for Madeleine, with a reported sighting of a little girl seen with a man.

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