Portuguese police hand Madeleine case to prosecutor

Portuguese police said they would hand evidence against the parents of missing 4-year-old Madeleine McCann on Monday to the public prosecutor, who would decide whether to charge them.

 Portuguese police hand Madeleine case to prosecutor
Portuguese police said they would hand evidence against the parents of missing 4-year-old Madeleine McCann on Monday to the public prosecutor, who would decide whether to charge them.

Gerry and Kate McCann returned to Britain on Sunday after police named them as suspects last week.

"The papers are being prepared and will be handed over to the public prosecutor today," Portuguese police spokesman Olegario de Sousa told Reuters on Monday.

He would not discuss details of the evidence, in accordance with Portugal's secrecy laws in criminal investigations.

"The prosecutor will then have to decide whether he has enough evidence to charge the McCanns or whether the police need to carry out more inquiries or gather more evidence," he said.

If the prosecutor decides there is sufficient evidence to charge the McCanns with involvement in Madeleine's disappearance, he could ask that the couple return to Portugal and possibly then order their arrest.

The prosecutor could also decide there is insufficient evidence to do anything and may ask police investigators to find more evidence.

MCCANNS WILLING TO RETURN

Gerry and Kate McCann, both 39, returned to Britain on Sunday four months after Madeleine went missing while on holiday in the Algarve.

The couple have consulted lawyers in Britain after the Portuguese police declared them formal suspects on Friday, she added. Detectives questioned the couple for hours but did not charge them.

Police changed their line of inquiry after receiving partial results of forensic tests on evidence collected from various sites including the holiday apartment from which Madeleine vanished on May 3.

Kate McCann told a Sunday newspaper detectives pressured her to confess to having accidentally killed her daughter.

"They want me to lie. I am being framed," she was quoted as saying in the Sunday Mirror. "They are basically saying, 'If you confess Madeleine had an accident and that I panicked ... I'd get two or three years' suspended sentence.' It is ridiculous. The worst nightmare."

The couple are at home in the village of Rothley, Leicestershire, with crowds of journalists camped outside.

However, they are ready to face more questioning in Portugal and will fly back from time to time regardless of the police investigation, Madeleine's aunt Philomena McCann said.

"They absolutely will co-operate with the police," she added. "They are more than prepared to undergo more questioning.

"It is their intention, regardless of whether they are asked ... to return at regular intervals to try and put pressure on the Portuguese police to change the direction of the investigation to look for Madeleine alive."

She told the BBC: "The Portuguese have turned this investigation round and they are no longer looking for a live child; they are assuming on spurious evidence that Madeleine is now dead.

"We don't agree with that in any shape or form. We want the investigation changed round to look for Madeleine alive, as we reckon she is."

Reuters
Last Mod: 11 Eylül 2007, 12:10
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