Madeleine: police may quiz 'Tapas Nine' again

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BRITISH and Portuguese police have met to discuss reinterviewing the friends who dined with Madeleine McCann's parents on the day she disappeared.

Detective Superintendent Stuart Prior, of Leicestershire Police, returned from the Algarve yesterday after meeting counterparts in Portugal about how the fresh interviews would be conducted.

Madeleine went missing from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on 3 May last year while Gerry and Kate McCann had dinner at a nearby tapas bar with friends.

Detectives have focused on the witness accounts given by the group, the so-called "Tapas Nine", to try to establish a timeline of events on that evening.

Mr Prior flew to Portugal to discuss the issue of mutual legal assistance, the process whereby evidence is gathered in one country to help an investigation in another.

A Leicestershire Police spokeswoman said: "Since Madeleine's disappearance, we, together with other law-enforcement agencies, have been working closely with the Portuguese authorities.

"Mr Prior has attended a series of meetings with his Portuguese counterparts," she said yesterday. "He travelled to Portugal on Tuesday and returned this morning.

"He went to discuss how the request for mutual legal assistance is to be executed and to seek clarification over elements of the request."

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