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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 00:20 GMT 01:20 UK
'No evidence' for Algarve arrest
Robert Murat
Robert Murat has worked for the police as a translator
Police are still investigating a man regarded as a suspect in Madeleine McCann's abduction, despite not having the evidence to arrest him.

The 33-year-old man is believed to be Briton Robert Murat, who lives with his mother Jenny in Praia da Luz, Algarve.

Mr Murat later said he had been made "a scapegoat for something I did not do".

Police have searched the Murats' villa, which is 150 yards from where four-year-old Madeleine, of Rothley, Leicestershire, was last seen on 3 May.

'Life made difficult'

In an off-camera interview, Mr Murat, the father of a four-year-old daughter, told Sky News: "This has ruined my life and made my life very difficult for my family here and in Britain.

"The only way I will survive this is if they catch Madeleine's abductor."

He added: "I've been made a scapegoat for something I did not do."

Earlier, Chief Inspector Olegario de Sousa told a news conference he could not confirm whether Madeleine was alive or dead.

He said police had searched five houses on Monday and seized "various materials" from the properties which were being subjected to forensic tests.

They also questioned two other people as witnesses, he added.

The suspect has signed an identity and residence statement which prevents him from moving house or leaving the country, and requires him to regularly report to police.

Mr Sousa confirmed that the suspect, whom he declined to name, had assisted police in the early stages of the investigation by working as a translator.

Meanwhile, Madeleine's parents Gerry and Kate McCann were joined by about 15 of their friends and several villagers at a private church service in Praia da Luz.

The service was held jointly by a Portuguese priest and Father Paul Seddon who baptised Madeleine and has flown out to the Algarve to support her family.

'Hope for more'

Earlier Mr Murat, formerly of Hockering, Norfolk, was officially declared a suspect - or "arguido" - which gives him additional legal rights under Portuguese law.

He may have been named as an arguido by police or could have chosen to take the status himself to gain those protections.

Officially a suspect
Bestowed by police or requested by individual
Right to remain silent
Right to a lawyer
Must report to police every five days

An arrest can be made once someone is an arguido, but only if there is sufficient evidence.

"We can hope for more, but for the moment we can say we are continuing on this objective," Mr Sousa said.

"When you work, you work to get results, but this doesn't always happen at once.

"Let's wait and see. We are hopeful that this case will be over in the near future."

Pool drained

Mr Murat, a former property developer who lived in Norfolk but was raised in Portugal and returned to the Algarve two years ago, had become well known to journalists during the search for Madeleine.

Madeleine McCann
Madeleine McCann disappeared on 3 May

The search of his mother's property, known as Casa Liliana, began at 0700 local time on Monday after Sunday Mirror journalist Lori Campbell had spoken to the British Embassy and the police about Mr Murat.

It is believed police have drained its swimming pool and taken away computers, mobile phones and several video tapes

His mother is a 71-year-old former nurse, believed to be a widow, who has lived in Portugal for 40 years and brought her son and daughter up in the country.

Mr Murat's uncle, Ralph Eveleigh, who runs a bed and breakfast in the nearby village of Burgau, said his nephew was at home with his mother on the night Madeleine went missing.

"Robert is so sweet and good-natured. He was just trying to help," he added.

Madeleine disappeared from her bedroom 12 days ago as her parents ate dinner at a nearby tapas restaurant.

On Monday, Madeleine's parents Gerry and Kate McCann said they would not return to the UK until she was found safe and well.

Mr McCann, who is originally from Glasgow, said the couple would continue to believe she was being cared for until they received "concrete evidence to the contrary".

The international number for Crimestoppers is +44 1883 731 336. People with information about Madeleine can call anonymously.

Plan of Praia da Luz

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