Prosecutor ponders closing Madeleine case

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The Independent Online

Portugal's Attorney-General Fernando Pinto Monteiro today dismissed claims that the Madeleine McCann investigation is about to be shelved.

He said that police have completed their final report into the disappearance but officials have taken no decision yet on whether to drop the case

Officials will "determine whether further inquiries are needed or whether the conditions are in place for the investigation to be closed," he said in a statement.

Kate and Gerry McCann, who are official suspects in the case, had been awaiting news after reports in three Portuguese newspapers today that the 14-month investigation has reached a dead end and the case is to be closed.

The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said: "As I understand, the attorney general has clarified that the police have effectively dropped all possible lines of inquiry and have handed their files to the prosecutor and he will make the final decision on whether Kate and Gerry are charged or the investigation is closed.

"The attorney general has basically said that the police inquiry is over and they've given all the material to the prosecutor, so the investigation rolls on but the police's bit is now over."

He said that if the inquiry is to be discontinued, then police files should be handed over to the McCanns' ongoing private investigation and that the search would continue.

Madeleine disappeared on 3 May last year.

The three-year-old had been on holiday in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz with her parents, from Rothley, Leicestershire, when she vanished from the family's apartment.

During the investigation into her disappearance, detectives named Mr McCann, 39, and 40-year-old Mrs McCann as formal suspects in the case.

Two Portuguese newspapers reported today that police were dropping the inquiry but could re-open it if new evidence emerges. The papers cited unidentified police sources.

Mr Mitchell said: "If the reports are true, it is to be welcomed that no charges are to be brought and it is entirely right because Kate and Gerry are innocent of any involvement in their daughter's disappearance and always have been.

"They have suffered for far too long in this process and the Portuguese authorities must now lift their arguido status."

He continued: "The police themselves must continue looking for Madeleine. We are concerned that if they are to simply shelve the case then what will happen to all of the information in their files?

"They must be made available to our investigators, who are working extremely hard to find Madeleine.

"If the police feel that they can no longer investigate the case that is a decision for them."