Sunday 18 February 2018

Portuguese residents tell Madeleine police to 'go home'

Officers have spent eight days investigating areas of interest in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz, with Scotland Yard confirming last night that more will be carried out
Officers have spent eight days investigating areas of interest in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz, with Scotland Yard confirming last night that more will be carried out "shortly"

Residents and business owners in the Algarve resort where Madeleine McCann went missing seven years ago have spoken of their frustration at learning that the police activity is set to go on, with one telling British police to "go home".

Detectives found no evidence relating to the missing child during searches of three areas of land in Praia da Luz over the past 10 days, but have said more will be carried out "shortly".

Further requests are also being compiled and will be submitted to the Portuguese authorities.

Today, locals in the town suggested they should sue the British police for the loss of earnings they have incurred, with another claiming the investigation was "killing" the small resort.

Waiter Fernando Pereira said the timing of the searches, at the start of the tourist season was a "bloody nuisance".

He added: "Praia da Luz is not a very big place. There are very narrow roads. It's a pain.

"If they are going to be doing even more digging up and closing roads it's going to disturb everyone.

"Everyone's opinion here - and even the British people who live here - is that it's a bit too much now. The British police should just go home."

A local estate agent, who gave his name only as Pedro, said the police investigation was putting off potential buyers when he showed them around properties.

He said: "Suddenly they see a huge police operation and you have to explain. Some people take it very lightly and don't care but others, you can see that they feel very uncomfortable.

"What happened is nothing to do with the people of Praia da Luz but it will always be associated with Madeleine."

He added that the local feeling was that the police investigation was a "waste of time".

"More and more you feel that people have no faith in the police," he said.

Expats also spoke of their anger, with one saying: "Enough is enough".

The British woman, who did not want to be named, said: "Praia da Luz is surrounded by scrubland - when's it going to stop? I don't know what they're going to find - a big fat zero I should think.

"It's a family resort but this investigation is killing it."

Scotland Yard said last night there is "still a substantial amount of work yet to be completed in the coming weeks and months".

Police said their recent activity was only the "first phase of this major investigation which has been agreed with the Portuguese".

The searches saw Operation Grange police officers working alongside specialists from around the UK including Sussex Police and South Wales Police with the Portuguese police.

The British officers were believed to be flying home today and tomorrow and it is not clear when they will return.

There were also unconfirmed reports last week that Scotland Yard has been granted permission to question three suspects about the case.

The force said the decision to search the horseshoe-shaped piece of scrubland close to the Ocean Club resort where Madeleine went missing aged three in May 2007, with the two sites investigated yesterday, was a specific result of the UK's investigation work to date.

The three areas were identified as places to be surveyed after 41 ground anomalies were identified by both aerial survey and ground analysis.

British officers, accompanied by their Portuguese counterparts, spent seven days carrying out a methodical search of the first site last week, with TV crews and press from around the world descending on the resort as the new development in the lengthy investigation took place.

Specialist teams including forensics officers, sniffer dogs and officers using ground-penetrating radar equipment were used on the large site, with the two areas searched yesterday being smaller and on the outskirts of the town.

As police prepared to search the second two areas, graffiti slurring the McCann family and describing British police as "stupid" was scrawled on a nearby wall overnight.

A spokesman for Kate and Gerry McCann, from Rothley, Leicestershire, said they declined to comment on the graffiti, which was written in large red letters in Portuguese.

The new operation in Portugal is only being carried out at the request of the British authorities after they submitted four International Letters of Request.

The Portuguese have also reopened their inquiry into Madeleine's disappearance but, while they are working with the UK force, they have refused to set up an official joint investigation.

Online Editors

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