Portuguese Supreme Court judges have clarified an earlier ruling that may have been misunderstood to clear Madeleine McCann’s parents of any wrongdoing in relation to her 2007 disappearance.
Maddie McCann disappeared from the family’s vacation apartment at a Portuguese resort in May 2007. Her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, left Maddie and her siblings sleeping in the apartment while they dined with friends on the same property, checking up on the children periodically. But during one of those check-ins, her parents said, little Maddie had vanished.
For a period, Maddie’s parents were questioned as suspects in her disappearance, but were no longer considered formal suspects after the Portuguese attorney general closed the inquiry in 2008. Still, there is widespread skepticism in Portugal and elsewhere that the McCanns are not telling the whole story — that perhaps Maddie died accidentally and they covered up her death by claiming she went missing.
And this week, the Portuguese Supreme Court sent a message that Mr. and Mrs. McCann should not necessarily be considered innocent of any involvement.
In a detailed decision that withheld a reversal of a libel settlement against a former police chief who wrote a book arguing that the McCanns were involved in Maddie’s disappearance, the Portuguese Supreme Court judges wrote, according to the The Telegraph:
It should not be said that the appellants were cleared via the ruling announcing the archiving of the criminal case. In truth, 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 decision also cautioned against making any inferences about the parents guilt or innocence, as it was not the role of the judges in this case to determine if the McCanns were guilty of criminal wrongdoing.
In 2015, the McCanns won a libel case against former police chief Goncalo Amaral, whose 2008 book Maddie: The Truth of Lie alleges that the British husband and wife invented a kidnapping story to cover up their 4-year-old daughter’s accidental death. The decision was later reversed in appeals court. The McCanns appealed the reversal and lost, and are now vulnerable to being sued themselves, according to The Telegraph.
Kate and Gerry McCann have consistently maintained their innocence, and have the support of British authorities in their ongoing search for Maddie.