Portuguese police named Robert Murat as a formal suspect.
LISBON, Portugal — Portuguese police released a suspect who
they questioned about the disappearance of a British toddler,
saying there was not enough evidence to file charges, an
official said Tuesday.
searched five houses Monday as part of their investigation of
the 33-year-old man, identified in media reports as Briton
Robert Murat, and seized some of his belongings, inspector
Olegario de Sousa told a news conference. Detectives also
questioned two other people as part of the same inquiry into
Madeleine McCann's disappearance, he said.
and forensic experts searched his villa for most of Monday,
taking away computers and cellular phones, Lusa said. Portuguese
media said police drained the villa's pool.
The villa is
about 100 yards from the hotel where Madeleine, from central
England, was apparently abducted while vacationing with her
officials at national headquarters would not confirm the report
nor name anyone under investigation, citing secrecy laws. They
said detectives would hold a news conference later in the day
Portuguese law, opening a formal investigation is a first step
toward possibly bringing formal charges. The legal measure is
designed to safeguard a citizen's constitutional rights. It
grants the person in question access to potential evidence and
allows the person to mount a legal defense.
vanished May 3 after her parents left her, and her brother and
sister, both aged 2, alone while they went to a nearby
restaurant within their hotel complex in Portugal's Algarve
region, a popular European tourist destination.
media said the suspect had mingled with journalists outside the
hotel in the days following the girl's disappearance and offered
to act as an interpreter. He reportedly has a Portuguese father
and a British mother and speaks English and Portuguese fluently.
journalist told Sky News she had told local police the man was
behaving suspiciously and had encouraged them to follow leads
suggesting the girl had been kidnapped and taken to Spain.
police called off their ground search for Madeleine, saying they
had checked a 77-square-mile area twice and found nothing.
are still at the hotel.
have said that promised contributions to a reward fund total
some $5.1 million, including reported donations from Harry
Potter author J.K. Rowling, tycoon Sir Richard Branson and
"American Idol" judge Simon Cowell. Also, celebrities including
soccer star David Beckham have made public appeals for help in
week, Gerry McCann said he and his wife, Kate, had taken
strength from the "spiritual outpouring" around the world. They
have received messages of support from numerous countries, he
long they would stay in Portugal, Kate McCann said, "I can't
even consider going home at the moment, absolutely can't even
let it enter my head."