PORTUGAL:Portuguese police tried to get Kate McCann, the mother of missing British four-year-old Madeleine McCann, to make a statement saying she had accidentally killed her daughter, Kate McCann's sister-in-law said yesterday.
Philomena McCann said police "don't seem as interested" in the child's father, Gerry, because of fluids which police say they found on Kate McCann's clothes.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio yesterday, Philomena McCann said she had spoken to her younger brother at lunchtime yesterday. Kate McCann had been questioned by Portuguese police for 11 hours on Thursday, she said.
While it was possible that the naming of Kate McCann as a suspect was a "smokescreen" to encourage the real perpetrator to "relax and come out into the open", Philomena McCann said, she thought the couple would have been told that this was what was happening.
"[ They're] trying to suggest that they secreted her away somewhere . . . They tried to get her to make a statement suggesting that she had accidentally killed Madeleine. That's what was put to her through her lawyer," Philomena McCann said.
"And you know that they would kind of make a plea bargain with her, so that she might serve two years in jail, that kind of thing - 'Look, just say that it was an accident . . . '
"They don't seem as interested in Gerry because of what they say that they've found, fluid forensics on Kate's clothes of Madeleine . . . you pick your daughter up, you give her a cuddle, fluids, you know sweat, anything, it's just utterly ridiculous."
Ms McCann said one of the couple's main concerns was that the Portuguese police were no longer searching for Madeleine.
Referring to reports that specks of blood had been found in the Algarve apartment from which Madeleine disappeared four months ago, Ms McCann said Madeleine had hurt herself at the airport but not in the apartment. She did not know what the specks of blood related to.
She added that some of the forensics results which the police were working from had been carried out in Britain, following pressure placed on the British government by the couple.
"What we're actually hearing is that these forensics have been exaggerated to try and get some kind of confession from Kate, or the only other thing that makes any sense . . . is that it's a smokescreen, and that they're trying to get the perpetrator to relax and come out into the open.
"But it's the most shocking and underhanded thing I've ever heard of.
"They seem to have pictured her as a weaker link."
Other relatives and friends of the McCanns spoke out yesterday against the Portuguese police and in support of the couple. Susan Healey, Kate McCann's mother, described the situation as ludicrous.
Speaking from her home in Liverpool, Mrs Healey said: "Anybody who knows Kate and Gerry knows it is absolutely ludicrous. I just can't describe it any other way.
"Kate and Gerry are relying on the Portuguese police but there is an uncomfortable feeling that they are not necessarily looking outwards for Madeleine but towards them."
On the speculation that her daughter may be charged by Portuguese police, she added: "There are some questions which the Portuguese police are not allowed to ask unless the suspect has been charged."
Gerry McCann rejected any suggestion of his wife's involvement on his blog (www.findmadeleine.com).
"The suggestion that Kate is involved in Madeleine's disappearance is ludicrous," he wrote. "Anyone who knows anything about May 3rd knows that Kate is completely innocent.
"We will fight this all the way and we will not stop looking for Madeleine." -