Missing British girl Madeleine McCann 'died in Spanish holiday apartment'

January 13, 2010 3:09AM

A REPORT into the Portugal disappearance of British child Madeleine McCann, signed by a police chief, said she died in her family's holiday apartment, a court has heard today.

The lawyer in charge of the original inquiry into Madeleine's disappearance, Jose Magalhaes e Menezes, said the report was signed by Tavares de Almeida, who was chief inspector of police at the time Madeleine vanished.

Mr Menezes also claimed that text messages sent by Kate and Gerry McCann were intercepted by police who were suspicious about their role in their daughter's disappearance, Sky News reports.

But the texts were not considered part of the investigation because a judge would not allow it.

Mr Menezes was the first witness called at a libel trial brought by the McCanns against former police chief Goncalo Amaral.

His book, The Truth Of The Lie, claimed Madeleine had died in the family's apartment in the holiday resort of Praia da Luz in May 2007.

Mr Menezes said the decision to designate the McCanns suspects was taken by police after sniffer dogs brought to Portugal from England had carried out their searches.

Giving evidence, Mr de Almeida told the court that the dogs identified blood and the smell of a human body inside the dining room of the holiday flat and in the car the McCanns were using.

The animals also found a scent on a piece of cloth in a flat rented by the McCanns after they left the apartment.

The McCanns are seeking £1 million ($1.6 million) compensation and a final ruling preventing Mr Amaral from repeating the claims he made about them.

The McCanns' lawyer told the court that the couple were prepared to give evidence but only after Mr Amaral had done so.

The case may now last longer than its expected three days because a new witness, named as Luis Frois, is being called by the McCann team.

Mr Amaral was taken off the case after criticising British police in a newspaper interview.

The McCanns' status as suspects was lifted when the investigation was shelved in July 2008.

"No-one can be allowed to say that our daughter can't be found without very good evidence. That's what this court case is about," Mr McCann said in Lisbon this week.

"We're looking for justice," Mrs McCann said.

The couple, both 41, from Rothley, Leicestershire, have said that any damages awarded to them would go towards paying for private investigators to look for their daughter.

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