Investigators in Madeleine McCann's disappearance indicated this week that they planned to clear the toddler's parents as suspects and shelve the case, saying it might never be solved, according to the London Daily Mail.
Detectives were said to be preparing the public for the possibility that the mystery of what happened to the British toddler in Portugal, where she vanished while she was on vacation with her parents and younger siblings, might never be unraveled.
On Wednesday, the justice minister backed a top Portuguese police official, who said that investigators had acted hastily in naming Kate and Gerry McCann as suspects in their daughter's disappearance last year.
"The fact that (the police officer) is still in his job indicates what I think about that matter," Justice Minister Alberto Costa told reporters, declining to elaborate.
Alipio Ribeiro, head of the Portuguese police's detective branch, said in a radio interview broadcast Sunday that investigators had shown "a certain haste" in naming Kate and Gerry McCann as formal suspects in the case.
"Perhaps there should have been a different evaluation. I have no doubt about this," Ribeiro said in the interview.
A local newspaper said the comments were made to float the idea that no one may ever be charged.
"By admitting being hasty in making Madeleine McCann's parents suspects in their daughter's disappearance....the national director of the Policia Judiciaria is preparing public opinion for the possibility that no prosecution will ever be brought because of a lack of consistent evidence," reported Diario de Noticias, citing senior police officials.
The McCanns' status as formal suspects could be revoked "within months," according to the paper.
Ribeiro was widely criticized in the Portuguese media for his comments. Many analysts interpreted his remarks to mean the investigation was misguided and was making little progress.
Some detectives on the case were reportedly livid about Ribeiro's remarks and still believe they have enough evidence to charge Kate McCann in Madeleine's death, according to the Mail.
These investigators think that Madeleine died accidentally in her parents' rented apartment in Praia da Luz in the Algarve region of Portugal, and that her body was hidden in a bag that was thrown into the ocean.
It isn't the first time that Ribeiro has come under fire for statements he's made about the case. In a newspaper interview in November, he said, "I don't know if any arrests will be made in the Maddie case."
It's a commonly held theory among the Portuguese public that the U.K. has placed political pressure on investigators to drop the case against the McCanns.
Madeleine McCann disappeared May 3, a few days before her 4th birthday.
Madeleine's parents, who have run an international campaign to find their daughter, returned to Britain in September, a day after they were named as formal suspects in the case. No one has been charged.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.