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In from PRAIA DA LUZ, Portugal , the parents of a missing British girl are eager to leave Portugal as soon as possible and return to Britain to clear their names after police named them as suspects in their daughter’s disappearance, a family friend said Saturday.

Gerry McCann, 4-year old Madeleine’s father, said he and his wife expected clarification of their legal status within 48 hours, according to the friend, Clarence Mitchell. Their lawyer said late Friday that police had declared the parents suspects in the May 3 disappearance.

“They are in broad agreement that they should get out as soon as they can,” Mitchell told The Associated Press by telephone from Britain. Whether Portuguese police will allow them to leave is unclear, though their passports are not believed to have been seized up until now.

Mitchell said Kate and Gerry McCann had previously intended to leave southern Portugal, where they have stayed since their daughter vanished from a hotel room during a family vacation, on Sunday night.

“They are determined to prove this is a travesty…and clear their names,” Mitchell said of the police allegations about their possible involvement.

The police decision to name the parents as suspects brought a dramatic twist in the four-month-old case. Their ordeal has drawn attention around the world, partly because of an international campaign they have run to find their 4-year-old daughter.

Mitchell said the McCanns, both doctors from central England, were considering hiring lawyers in Britain where they would also have support from family and friends.

The McCann’s Portuguese lawyer, Carlos Pinto Abreu, said police have not brought charges against them and that the investigation was continuing.

Until Friday, suspicion had focused on a British man who lived near the hotel from which Madeleine disappeared and who was the only formal suspect. But police said new forensic tests done on evidence gathered months after the girl vanished found traces of blood in the couple’s car, according to Justine McGuinness, a spokeswoman for the family.

The new evidence, including the traces of blood missed in earlier forensic tests, was uncovered by sniffer dogs brought from Britain.

The only formal suspect until now has been Robert Murat, who lives with his mother near the hotel from which the girl disappeared. He has always maintained his innocence. Police said Murat’s status as a suspect had not changed.

The McCanns have strenuously professed their innocence.

Kate McCann underwent two straight days of interrogation at a police station in southern Portugal on Thursday and Friday. Her husband was questioned separately afterward.

The girl’s aunt said that during the questioning of Kate McCann, police suggested Madeleine might have been killed accidentally and offered the mother a plea deal if she confessed.

“They tried to get her to confess to having accidentally killed Madeleine by offering her a deal through her lawyer, ‘If you say you killed Madeleine by accident and then hid her and disposed of the body, then we can guarantee you a two-year jail sentence or even less,'” Gerry McCann’s sister, Philomena, told ITV news on Friday.

A police spokesman, Olegario Sousa, confirmed to The Associated Press that police had named a new suspect, but would not say it was Kate McCann. He cited privacy laws in declining to comment further. He could not be reached for comment Saturday on the McCanns apparent desire to leave Portugal.

The McCanns said they were dining with friends in a hotel restaurant when Madeleine vanished. Their daughter was in their hotel room with her twin 2-year-old siblings, and the parents said they returned frequently to check on them.

Since then, the McCanns have toured Europe with photos of Madeleine and the child’s stuffed animals and clothing, even meeting with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican. Celebrities including J.K. Rowling and David Beckham made public appeals that helped the family raise more than $2 million.

The money, controlled by an independent auditor, is meant for charities that aid in missing children cases.
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Thank you BARRY HATTON, Associated Press Writer
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Well let’s see…this week they stated they never wanted to go home and now that they have been formally charged as suspects, they can’t wait to get out of there…

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