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article imageFamily Villa Near By Cordoned Off In The Search For Madeleine

By Michelle Duffy     May 15, 2007 in World
Much of the UK and other countries following the case were gripped last night when a villa only 100 yards from where the little girl was taken has been searched by forensics
The hunt for Madeleine McCann is now in it's 12th day and there has been some heart stopping revelations over night from a villa only 100 yards away from the apartment where the four year old was snatched from her bed whilst her parents dined at a near by restaurant.
The case now points towards an ex-pat and his mother living in a villa nearby
The home of Robert Murat and his mother, Jennifer was sealed off late yesterday afternoon when the police and forensics moved in to look for evidence of the little girl from Leicestershire being there or still there since her disappearance 12 days ago from a nearby resort complex.
The search began at around 7 am Portuguese time yesterday morning. The search was conducted immediately after a British journalist from the newspaper, The Sunday Mirror, Lori Campbell had approached local police saying that she had found the movements of Mr Murat suspicious. On occasions of trying to interview the gentleman, he appeared evasive and refused to pass on information about himself including a surname. Her suspicions were aroused when he appeared to be hanging around the apartment where Madeleine disappeared and was seen to be asking too many questions to the police about the progression of the case. He was also seen watching the near by scene from his own property.
The police would like to make it clear that Mr Murat was taken to the Portuguese headquarters last night for questioning only and no arrests have been made at this stage.
It has been announced that three people are helping police with their inquiries and one of them is the British man, Robert Murat.
Forensics left the villa in Praia da Luz, which Murat shares with his mother, Jennifer, 71 late last night taking a couple of boxes away with them to be searched by detectives leading the case of the missing girl.
Under Portuguese law, all statement have to be made in front of a court judge. The Chief Inspector, Olegario Sousa had confirmed to the press last night that three witnesses had made such statements to the judge. Again, no further action has been taken against the mother and son, yet the police do insist that this search may be only to eliminate the Murats from their inquires.
So far today, the villa, Casa Liliana, is still surrounded by guards and has been cordoned off by police.
Mr Murat had become fairly well known to UK journalists in Portugal covering the case. He had told a BBC correspondent that he was working for the police as an interpreter. His mother had set up a system where people could come to her with information if they didn't want to approach the police. She put herself in a position where she could gain information from the public and passed on what she thought was vital from her seafront stall she had set up for the case, to the police herself.
The Murats are originally from Norfolk and have been living in Portugal for some time. Jennifer has been there for 40 years. Mr Murat had told some people working on the case that he had also a little girl around the same age back in England whom he missed so much and hardly ever saw because of difficulties with his estranged wife. He said that it was because of not seeing his own daughter, that he wanted to get involved in finding little Madeleine.
Mr Murat's mother insisted that there was nothing wrong with the villa and that her son was innocent and would be returning to the villa soon, still a free man. She told reporters that she didn't known why her villa was being searched. She has since been told not to speak to any other reporters.
A friend of the Murat family says she was shocked that they were in question. She said,
"Jenny is very well known around here - she has lived here most of her life. And the family has a very good reputation and a very good name."
It is also thought that the police have drained the swimming pool in the villa.
The search continues for any evidence of the little girl being in or around the Murat villa whilst Robert Murat continues to be questioned by police.
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