Wed, Jul 23, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Portuguese police close file on missing girl

AFP , LISBON

Portuguese authorities on Monday closed the investigation on the young British girl Madeleine McCann, still missing after a year, and lifted the “suspect” label from her parents due to lack of evidence.

They decided to “close the file on the investigation ... due to lack of evidence that any crime was committed by the persons placed under formal investigation,” a statement from the attorney general’s office said.

The arguido, or official suspect status, was also lifted from a third person, Robert Murat, a 34 year-old British property consultant living in Portugal, it said. Murat last week accepted six-figure libel damages from several newspapers over allegations he was involved in her disappearance.

Madeleine vanished from an apartment in the southern resort of Praia da Luz, on the Algarve, on May 3 last year, days before her fourth birthday, as her parents Gerry and Kate McCann dined with friends at a nearby restaurant.

A spokesman for the girl’s parents said they were relieved at Monday’s decision to close the case and that they wanted access to the Portuguese police files.

“There is a degree of relief but no air of celebration whatsoever,” said Clarence Mitchell. “They should never have been arguido. The fact that they have emerged from this without being charged proves that.”

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