Forensic tests as Madeleine milestone looms

Forensic tests as Madeleine milestone looms
9 August 2007
The Irish Examiner

Tests were being carried out last night at a top British forensic laboratory on evidence recovered from Madeleine McCann’s holiday apartment. Samples, suspected to contain tiny traces of blood, arrived yesterday at the headquarters of the Forensic Science Service in Birmingham.

The traces, recovered from a wall of the Algarve apartment, were only uncovered this week, more than three months after the four-year-old vanished. It is believed a trained sniffer dog, brought in by British detectives, located the tiny traces despite attempts to wash them off.

Scientists will be hoping to extract DNA from the samples to cross-reference against an example obtained from a toothbrush or hairbrush used by Madeleine.

Detectives are desperate for a concrete forensic lead in the search, which is due to mark its 100th day on Saturday.

A Forensic Science Service spokesman confirmed the samples were received but declined to comment further on a "live case".

The family are expected to mark the grim 100-day milestone with a series of events, including a special Catholic prayer service in Praia da Luz.

In Britain, Premiership League football clubs will play a video reminding fans that Madeleine is still missing.

Portuguese newspapers have claimed police believe the blood will prove Madeleine died in the apartment, whether she was murdered or by accident.

Kate McCann said she and her husband Gerry are in close contact with Portuguese detectives who have told them they believe Madeleine is alive.

Friends of the family said they were disgusted at what they said was a smear campaign against them.

Earlier, another line of inquiry was all but extinguished when Belgian prosecutors said tests on a milkshake bottle used by a girl who looked like Madeleine were inconclusive.

A DNA sample taken from a restaurant in Tongeren, close to the Dutch border, where a woman reported seeing Madeleine with a suspicious couple, was that of a man.

But investigators said the finding did not rule out the possibility that Madeleine was present, and said they were still hunting the couple’s black Volvo car.

Spokeswoman Katja Vandoren said: "The possibility exists that the bottle was finished by the man who was with the little girl present. We continue to examine all useful tips."

The sniffer dog that found the body of murdered Ulsterwoman Attracta Harron was flown to Portugal to aid the search for Madeleine. English springer spaniel Eddie and his companion Keela are trained to sniff out minute traces of blood.

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