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MADELEINE: NEW BLOW FOR THE PARENTS AS SUSPECT IS CLEARED

HOMEPAGE NEWS REPORTS INDEX SUSPECTS PHOTOS NEWS DECEMBER 2007
Original Source: FRIDAY 28 DECEMBER 2007
By Martin Evans in Praia Da Luz
 

A PAEDOPHILE suspected of being involved in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann has been ruled out of the inquiry.

 

He was the last of 52 British sex offenders who have links with the Algarve to be tracked down by detectives but has now been ruled out of any involvement.

 

In a further blow for Madeleine's parents, police files against them will not be made public next week after the authorities applied to extend their investigation. Kate and Gerry McCann, who remain official suspects (arguidos) in their daughter's disappearance, had hoped to discover what evidence detectives had against them on January 3 when a crucial secrecy deadline passed.

 

Under Portuguese law the police must make their findings public eight months after an investigation is launched.

 

But the McCanns and Robert Murat - the only other official suspect - will have to wait for at least three months to gain access to the files following the postponement of the deadline. This is allowed because prosecutors have awarded the investigation "special complexity" status meaning normal rules can be ignored.

 

A source within the Policia Judiciaria confirmed: "All the paedophiles who were in Portugal at the time of the disappearance have now been acquitted."

 

Few official details about the police investigation are known because the country's strict secrecy laws, which cover all criminal inquiries, mean it is illegal to talk publicly about a case.

 

Breaching the laws can be punishable by up to two years in prison.

 

Carlos Casimiro, a magistrate and expert in Portuguese penal procedure said the deadlines could be extended indefinitely because the case remains so high profile. He told Portuguese newspaper Diario de Noticias he thought the most likely outcome - even after two extensions - would be "the delay of the investigation in a desperate attempt to seek enough evidence to make an accusation".

 

"This is an exceptionally high profile case on an international level and it is the country's image which is at stake, " he said.

 

The McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "There are also people who aren't on any lists who need to be traced. In the meantime our lawyers will continue to press for access to the police files, and to push for the arguido status to be lifted."

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