December 11 2014
– Former suspect Robert Murat attended an Algarve police station today over the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
The IT consultant, 41, was driven into Faro Police Station through a back entrance just before 9.30am along with his German-born wife Michaela Walczuch, 38, and their lawyer Francisco Pagarete.
None made any comment in the morning or at midday, when they were driven out in a different vehicle for a short lunch before returning for the afternoon.
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Robert Murat (right) and his wife leave Faro’s Police Station inside a car after being interviewed as witnesses during an investigation on the Madeleine McCann case
Mr Murat, who is not suspected of any involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance, was called in for questioning on the second day of a fresh round of police interviews requested by Scotland Yard detectives.
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Portuguese police acting on behalf of the Operation Grange officers began questioning Michaela, Mr Murat’s girlfriend when Madeleine disappeared, as a witness soon after her morning arrival.
They also quizzed Silvia Batista, who ran the service and maintenance departments at the Ocean Club holiday complex in the resort of Praia da Luz where Madeleine was staying with her family.
British expat Murat, made a formal suspect or arguido days after Madeleine went missing on May 3 2007 before being cleared a year later, said last month when it emerged police wanted to question him that he was happy to cooperate.
Speaking before he received his official notification, he said: ‘My conscience is clear and I have no problem speaking to police again.’
His wife’s quiz was the first time she has had to face Scotland Yard questions but the fourth time in all she has been questioned by police as a witness.
Portuguese police took three statements from her within three weeks of Madeleine’s disappearance.
A Portuguese lorry driver later came forward to say he had seen a blonde woman he said resembled estate agent Michaela passing a blanket he was convinced contained a child over a fence on an Algarve farm the day after Madeleine vanished.
Spanish tourist Isabel Gonzalez also claimed she had spotted her in a town in northern Morocco in June 2007, moments after she had seen a girl who looked just like Madeleine.
Robert Murat’s lawyer said at the time he and his then-girlfriend were having their names dragged through the mud on a daily basis.
Michaela dismissed as ‘ridiculous’ claims she had been spotted with the missing girl in Morocco, insisting she was lunching with Mr Murat and his lawyer that day.
The pretty blonde, whose home was searched by Portuguese police after Madeleine disappeared, went on to complain of being treated like dirt by detectives and claim Kate and Gerry McCann’s former detective agency Metodo 3 had cynically used her.
British investigators carry food to Faro’s Police Station at lunch time +7
British investigators carry food to Faro’s Police Station at lunch time
Head of the Policia Judiciaria in the Algarve, Luis Mota Carmo, leaves Faro’s Police Station as the Madeleine case is re-investigated +7
Head of the Policia Judiciaria in the Algarve, Luis Mota Carmo, leaves Faro’s Police Station as the Madeleine case is re-investigated
Investigation: Last month it emerged the British police investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann (pictured) has cost almost £8million +7
Investigation: Last month it emerged the British police investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann (pictured) has cost almost £8million
Scotland Yard detectives in Portugal over McCann case
Protesting her innocence in a December 2007 interview with a UK newspaper, she said: ‘I lost my faith not just in justice but in the whole system and everyone that supports it.
‘The worst part is people putting me in this, knowing I have nothing to do with it.
‘They have no feelings, no heart. They are completely empty.
‘When Robert called me to tell me that there was a story about these sightings I went into town and I just saw my face on the front of all the papers. I felt sick.’
‘I just wanted to go all around the town screaming, “It wasn’t me.”‘
Silvia Batista, former head of the service and maintenance departments at the Ocean Club holiday complex but now unemployed, was the first person to turn up for questioning this morning.
She was followed into the station by the Scotland Yard detectives who arrived in two groups.
Mrs Batista, one of 11 people due to be questioned this week as witnesses, was one of the first people on the scene after being alerted to Madeleine’s disappearance.
She told police she found the youngster’s heart specialist dad Gerry ‘hitting the floor with both hands’ and ‘screaming with anger’ when she reached apartment 5A where Madeleine had been sleeping with twin siblings Sean and Amelie.
She also said Gerry told her he had closed the windows of their bedroom – open when Madeleine’s disappearance was discovered – because the twins, then 18 months, were still asleep in separate cots.
The police quizzes taking place this week are the first since four men were questioned as arguidos at the start of July.
All four – who included Russian businessman Sergey Malinka and a schizophrenic heroin addict – insisted they had nothing to do with Madeleine McCann’s disappearance.
Three men including rapist pig farmer Joaquim Jose Marques were questioned yesterday as witnesses.
Probe: DCI Andy Redwood (left) has arrived in Faro, Portugal to oversee the questioning of 11 witnesses over the disappearance of Madeleine McCann (file photo, right) +7
Probe: DCI Andy Redwood (left) has arrived in Faro, Portugal to oversee the questioning of 11 witnesses over the disappearance of Madeleine McCann (file photo, right) back in May 2007 +7
Probe: DCI Andy Redwood (left) has arrived in Faro, Portugal to oversee the questioning of 11 witnesses over the disappearance of Madeleine McCann (file photo, right)
Vanished: Madeleine McCann was three years old when she disappeared from her holiday resort in Praia da Luz (pictured) in May 2007 +7
Vanished: Madeleine McCann was three years old when she disappeared from her holiday resort in Praia da Luz (pictured) in May 2007
Three more people are due to be questioned tomorrow as witnesses on the last day of the police interviews.
Respected Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha reported today that the unnamed British wife of one of the witnesses has already been questioned in the UK.
British police believe Madeleine was killed during a bungled burglary, a theory their Portuguese counterparts who are conducting their own parallel investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance have privately rubbished.
Parts of the Praia da Luz resort where the youngster vanished were dug up in June at Scotland Yard’s request in a grim search for her body – but failed to yield any clues.
DCI Nicola Wall, from the Met Police’s Homicide and Major Crime Command Unit, will take charge of the British police investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance from Andy Redwood on December 22 when he retires.
She is expected to fly to the Algarve tomorrow to meet Portuguese police chiefs and get a briefing on how the week’s interviews have gone.
– Gerard Couzens