Madeleine McCann: Parents return to Portugal for libel trial
Kate and Gerry McCann arrive in to Lisbon for legal action against former Portuguese police chief
Kate and Gerry McCann returned to Portugal today for the latest hearing in their long-running libel case against Goncalo Amaral, the former police chief who oversaw the investigation into their daughter's disappearance in 2007.
The couple are suing Amaral for claims he made in his 2008 book, The Truth of the Lie, which included allegations that the McCanns hid Madeleine's body and faked her abduction following an accident at their Praia da Luz apartment.
Last month the couple flew to Lisbon to give personal statements on the impact of Amaral's accusations, but were unable to testify when the former police chief fired his legal team on the morning they were due to appear in court. His actions prompted a fourth adjournment in the case, which has now been running for five years,
The McCanns described the fiasco as a "blatant and cynical attempt" to delay the trial. Despite their anger, the McCanns are more "hopeful" this time round, the Independent says.
Speaking to the London Evening Standard, Gerry McCann said: "First of all we hope we get heard, that's the first thing. And also justice for Madeleine obviously."
The McCanns are expected to receive a settlement of about £1 million if their libel action against Amaral proves successful. A judgment is expected later this year.
Madeleine McCann: police interview 'local suspects'
Portuguese police have begun to question four "persons of interest" in the 2007 disappearance of Madeleine McCann from the Prai da Luz holiday resort on the Algarve.
British officers who are also investigating the case will be present throughout the interviews, which are being conducted at a police station in the town of Faro, but only Portuguese police will ask questions.
According to the Daily Mail, the suspects are "three Portuguese nationals and Russian computer expert Sergey Malinka, whose Praia da Luz home was searched by police shortly after Madeleine went missing in May 2007".
One of the men is believed to to be a key witness in the case and the others are suspected of a series of burglaries in the resort around the time Madeleine vanished. Police say they will attend the interviews "of their own free will".
The BBC suggests as many as eight people could be questioned by the authorities. After meeting police, they will be formally made 'arguidos' - a Portuguese legal term sometimes translated as 'suspects' but which means only that they are persons of interest to the police.
British officers travelled to the area earlier in June to carry out forensic examinations of several sites, using ground radar, rescue dogs and digging. They searched three sites but they have so far not yielded any evidence relating to the case.
Sky News reports that the interviewees are likely to include "three or more" former workers from the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz "who are suspected of carrying out a series of burglaries". The broadcaster says "it may be just a question of eliminating them" from the ongoing inquiry.
Sky also says that an "object" recovered during the June digs was sent away for further analysis.
Madeleine McCann's parents hit out at former police chief
The parents of Madeleine McCann have hit out at the former police officer who led the hunt for their missing daughter after he delayed a court hearing for the fourth time.
Kate and Gerry McCann are suing Goncalo Amaral for libel after he published a book claiming that Madeleine died in an accident that was covered up by her parents.
The McCanns had travelled to Portugal to deliver personal statements at Lisbon's Palace of Justice about how the book's claims had affected them. But Amaral sacked his legal team at the last minute, causing further delays to the trial.
Outside the court in Lisbon, Gerry McCann said they were "exasperated" that the legal case, which has been running for five years, had been cancelled for the fourth time at Amaral's request.
"Today is a blatant and cynical attempt to wear us down and it's Madeleine who is suffering," he said. "We're not going to give up – we're going to keep going."
His wife Kate added that every time Amaral postpones the case "it brings us more pain and distress". She said that each time they came to court they had to make arrangements for their children to be looked after, book flights and hotels, and take time off work.
"Mr Amaral handed that letter in at apparently around nine o'clock this morning," she said. "That letter could have been handed in before we left the country. And this has happened about four times. As Gerry said, this can't be seen as anything but blatant and cynical. We just want justice. This is not fair."
The couple will return for the next hearing, which has been set for 8 July. The family stands to gain around £1m in damages if successful, reports The Guardian. They claim that the 2008 book, called The Truth of the Lie, damaged the hunt for their daughter and exacerbated their anguish.
British police searching for Madeleine have been examining sites close to where she disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on 3 May 2007.
Madeleine McCann: sniffer dogs begin new search
The search for Madeleine McCann resumed this morning in a fresh area of scrubland near Praia Da Luz, where the toddler disappeared seven years ago.
The Independent reports that "the new search area is on the outskirts of the town, around 15 minutes' walk from the Ocean Club resort where the McCann family were staying when the child went missing".
Armed Portuguese police prepared the ground early this morning and stood guard while British officers continued their search.
"Sniffer dogs from South Wales Police were out on the land this morning and then search teams formed a line and systematically searched the ground with sticks," Sky News reported.
Candido Furtado, a local handyman, told the broadcaster: "I can't understand why they are searching here. On this land they will only find bones from buried horses and donkeys."
The investigation has attracted some negative publicity on the Algarve. The Guardian reports that graffiti reading "policia inglesa estupidos" ("stupid English police") has been scrawled on a wall by the search site.
Earlier this month, the town's mayor criticised the timing of the search, saying he would have preferred police to wait until after the tourist season.
Local sources speaking to the Daily Mirror say the seven-day search has so far failed to uncover any significant clues. An item of clothing found in a shaft beneath corrugated iron turned out to be a man's sock.
Nevertheless, Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, said last week that they have been "encouraged" by the latest news from Praia da Luz.
Writing on their Facebook page, the McCanns said: "We are kept updated on the ongoing work in Portugal and are encouraged by the progress. Thank you for continuing to stand by us and supporting our efforts to get Madeleine home."