McCanns reportedly leaving Portugal, returning to Britain
PORTIMAO, Portugal (CNN) -- Two days after they were officially named suspects in the disappearance of their 3-year-old daughter, Kate and Gerry McCann will be leaving Portugal for their home in Britain, according to a source close to the Portuguese police.
The McCanns would depart early Sunday from Faro Airport, the source said.
They're leaving "with the full knowledge of the Portuguese authorities and police," family spokeswoman Justine McGuiness told The Associated Press.
Earlier Saturday, family and friends of the McCanns expressed disbelief that the couple would have harmed their missing daughter, Madeleine.
Kate McCann's mother called the suggestion "ludicrous."
"It's bizarre. ... Kate never raises her voice to her children. She's the most loving and gentle mother," Susan Healy told the British news network ITN in Liverpool.
"She's kind, gentle, funny, she has a good sense of humor -- a person with a good sense of integrity, as is Gerry," Healy said.
She spoke with her daughter Friday night, and "she sounded quite together. She was tired and was about to go to bed," Healy said.
Kate McCann's father, who sat by his wife, said the couple has no idea what evidence might have led police to formally name Madeleine's parents as suspects in the disappearance.
"We all believe Madeleine is still alive, Brian Healy said.
The McCanns have consistently denied any wrongdoing.
On May 3, they reported that Madeleine had gone missing from their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, in southern Portugal.
The parents told police that they had left the daughter and her 2-year-old twin siblings asleep in the apartment as they dined just yards away.
A friend who has known Kate McCann for 30 years agreed that it's "unthinkable" that the McCanns would have harmed their child.
"I've not spoken to them in the last say two or three days, but I'm sure they're probably struggling," Nicky Gill told ITN in Liverpool.
"To even think that someone might harm the children. They're just family people. They love the children to death. ... I'm sure they have to be devastated to know someone would even think that."
Gill said she is convinced that the girl is still alive.
"I think she's out there somewhere. I like to think it's just a phone call away."
On Friday, in a shocking twist to a case that has drawn enormous international attention, Portuguese police questioned both parents for hours, then named them as suspects, according to McCann family spokesman David Hughes.
The McCanns have consistently denied any wrongdoing.
Philomena McCann, the sister of Madeleine's father, said he feared the formal naming of him and his wife as suspects in the disappearance of his young daughter will divert attention from the search for her.
Gerry McCann spoke by telephone to Philomena McCann in Scotland after he was released from police questioning in the Algarve town of Portimao.
"He is a bit distressed and very tired, but he is adamant that he has done nothing wrong," she said Saturday.
"He was questioned by the Policia Judiciaria [PJ] for a long time, and he gave full answers to everything that was asked of him. He has cooperated fully with the PJ," she told Sky News.
"Gerry didn't seem particularly worried. He was more concerned about how the investigation had turned away from looking for Madeleine alive. We want the police to continue looking for Madeleine alive."
Police have so far not said why they have focused on Gerry and Kate McCann.
But McGuiness, the family spokeswoman, said police have said the girl's blood was found in a vehicle rented by the family 25 days after Madeleine went missing.
Police "tried to get Kate to confess to having accidentally killed Madeleine" by offering her a prison sentence of two years or less in return for a guilty plea, Philomena McCann told ITN.
The McCanns have been declared as "arguidos," which, under Portuguese law, allows police to pose certain types of questions and gives them certain legal protections that are not extended to mere witnesses.
The term "arguido" is generally translated as "suspect."
Friday morning, Kate McCann, who had spent 11 hours Thursday at police headquarters in Portimao, returned for five more hours of questioning, during which she was officially classified as a suspect, according to McGuiness. She was allowed to leave, however.
Later in the day, Gerry McCann arrived for eight hours of questioning, emerging with a family attorney who told reporters that the father, too, was now a suspect. He was also allowed to leave.
Police have made no public statement on the latest developments and have not confirmed that the McCanns are now considered suspects.
Earlier in the investigation, another man had been declared an arguido, but he has also not been charged or formally arrested.
The girl's disappearance became a sensation in the British media and then internationally, with celebrities, including soccer icon David Beckham, offering their help to draw attention to the case and help raise money for the search.
The parents traveled abroad to drum up support and even met Pope Benedict XVI.
Weren't these the people who claimed they wouldn't leave the country unless they had their daughter back?
I'm sure J.K., Becks, and all of the others who rallied support for these people are feeling more and more stupid by the minute.
Also, I can't wait for their book: "We Didn't Accidently Overdose Our Young Daughter So We Could Have a Night Alone During Holiday and Conceal It, but if We Did, This is How it Would Have Happened."
ETA: Fixed the hideously big-ass font issue. Sorry about that.