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Kate and Gerry McCann ‘not formally in the clear’ over daughter Madeleine’s disappearance
The couple were ruled out as formal suspects, or “arguidos”, back in 2008 due to lack of evidence – but in court papers released today, judges have said this does not equate to a ruling of innocence
Kate and Gerry McCann have been dealt another cruel blow as a Portuguese court failed to put them in the clear over the disappearance of daughter Madeleine.
The couple were ruled out as formal suspects, or “arguidos”, back in 2008 – but in newly released court papers, judges have specified that this does not equate to a ruling of innocence.
It will add to the McCanns’ torment, after the same judges ruled against the couple last week in a legal battle with the police officer who led the hunt for their daughter.
The couple sued ex-police chief Goncalo Amaral after he wrote a book claiming they were responsible for Madeleine’s “death” in May 2007.
But he fought the case and Portugal’s Supreme Court sided with him.
In the 76-page ruling on the case – made public – they also said the archiving in 2008 of the criminal case into Madeline’s disappearance does not prove the McCanns are innocent.
They wrote: “It should not be said that the appellants were cleared via the ruling announcing the archiving of the criminal case.”
While the judges said it would be wrong to draw any inferences about the couple’s guilt or innocence from the decision, they noted that the case was not shelved because prosecutors believed that Kate and Gerry, from Rothley, Leics, were innocent – but due to a lack of evidence.
They wrote: “That ruling was not made in virtue of Portugal’s Public Prosecution Service having acquired the conviction that the appellants hadn’t committed a crime.
“The archiving of the case was determined by the fact that public prosecutors hadn’t managed to obtain sufficient evidence of the practice of crimes by the appellants.
The court concluded that the archiving of the case should not be seen as proof the McCanns are not guilty, stating: “It doesn’t therefore seem acceptable that the ruling, based on the insufficiency of evidence, should be equated to proof of innocence.”
The damming document means suspicion still hangs over the heads of the McCanns, who have always claimed their innocence.
It was released after the court decided Amaral’s “right to freedom of expression” was worthy of greater protection than the couple’s “right to honour”.
Amaral, 57, was ordered to pay the couple £360,000 in damages in 2015 for claims he made in The Truth Of The Lie.
Kate McCann speaks during charity fundraiser in midst of court battle
He said the McCanns faked Madeline’s abduction after she “died” in their holiday apartment. Amaral claimed his work was based on publicly available police and court files on the case. Kate described the book as “devastating and distressing”.
Amaral successfully overturned the ruling against him last April and the McCanns lodged a Supreme Court appeal.
But judges decided Amaral’s claims were “within admissible limits in a democratic and open society”. It means Kate and Gerry, both 48, face having to pay Amaral’s legal bills and could even be sued by him.
The McCanns may take the case to the European courts, but legal experts say they must prove they have a valid reason of appeal before any hearing would be even considered.
Madeline vanished from an apartment in Praia da Luz as her parents ate at a nearby restaurant. Detectives are said to be working on a theory that she was kidnapped by a European trafficking gang.
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