Madeleine McCann’s parents, family friends and other holiday-makers have been called back to Portugal to participate in a reconstruction of the night she disappeared, the London Times has learned.
Detectives want to replicate the events at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz on the evening that Kate and Gerry McCann reported their eldest daughter had been abducted. They have asked dozens of people to attend the event after the completion of a series of interviews with key witnesses which started today.
The unprecedented reconstruction is planned for the middle of next month, shortly after the first anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance on May 3. Portuguese police have written to witnesses, asking them to cooperate by attending the event.
The McCanns have not been to the Algarve resort since they were made arguidos (official suspects) on Sept. 7. Friends of the couple have indicated that they would refuse to voluntarily return unless they are formally cleared of any wrongdoing.
The reconstruction would involve dozens of people who were in Praia da Luz from the early afternoon of May 3 until Madeleine was reported missing from her bedroom at 10 p.m.
Events on the ground would be compared with the timeline of evidence being compiled during interviews with more than 50 people, which are being carried out by British police throughout this month.
Portuguese detectives hope the reconstruction will help them identify discrepancies in evidence and to pinpoint areas that need further investigation.
However, critics will see it as as a sign that the investigators have no idea what happened to Madeleine. Experts from Scotland Yard and Leicestershire Constabulary had advised Portuguese police to hold a reconstruction within weeks of Madeleine’s disappearance.
Seven British friends who were on vacation with the McCanns are being questioned by British police this week. The interviews at the headquarters of Leicestershire Constabulary are being watched by the chief Portuguese investigator, Paulo Rebelo, and two other senior detectives from the Policia Judicia.
Apparent inconsistencies in the previous statements of the “Tapas Seven” and the accounts of Kate and Gerry McCann have been identified by detectives. However, they have insisted that there are no differences and any minor discrepancies are to be expected in any set of recollections.
Kate McCann, 40, and her 39-year-old husband, both doctors from Rothley, Leicestershire, claim that Madeleine was abducted by a stranger just days before her fourth birthday.
The couple were dining with friends at a tapas restaurant at the Ocean Club when the abductor allegedly forced up a window and snatched Madeleine from the ground-floor bedroom where she was sleeping with her twin brother and sister, Sean and Amelie, now 2 years old.
Interviews will also be carried out with other vacationers, Ocean Club staff, the nannies who looked after Madeleine on the day she disappeared, as well as the psychologist who helped Kate McCann.
A spokeswoman for Leicestershire Constabulary said: “We will be coordinating the execution of the request for mutual legal assistance made by the Portuguese authorities.
“The Portuguese authorities have asked that the contents of the request and the way it is being executed be kept confidential so as not to prejudice their ongoing investigation.”
The McCanns will travel to Brussels Wednesday to lobby MEPs for better coordination between European countries when a child goes missing.
The couple last month visited the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in Washington, D.C. to learn about the Amber child abduction alert system as part of a television documentary to be broadcast on April 30.
Gerry McCann wrote afterwards: “During our Washington visit we were also very encouraged to hear that, in NCMEC’s experience, the younger the child at the time of abduction the less likely that child will be seriously harmed.
“Such information makes us believe even more fervently, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that Madeleine can be found safe and well.”