A high-ranking Portuguese police official declared Thursday that his colleagues have more important things to do than try to find missing British girl Madeleine McCann.
The shocking admission, published in the Portuguese newspaper 24 Horas, came as police were reportedly preparing an "exit strategy" from the case, sources told the newspaper.
"There are bigger problems in the PJ than the Maddie case," Carlos Anjos, head of the Judicial Police (PJ) Inspectors Union, told the newspaper.
Anjos' comments followed a statement by the national director of the PJ, Alipio Ribeiro, in which he admitted that authorities had acted "hastily" in making Madeleine's parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, formal suspects in their daughter's disappearance.
"We heard the director's explanations and we are going to continue to try to clear things up duly," Anjos said, adding, "I am certain that all of my colleagues involved in the investigation are doing everything they can to discover what happened."
The McCanns are sure to be disappointed by Anjos' statements. The couple has hired private detectives Metodo 3 at a rate of more than $100,000 a month to try to advance the investigation into their daughter's disappearance.
The London Daily Mail reported that Anjos' remarks came a day after senior police sources disclosed that the case is set to be closed and the McCann's status as formal suspects was to be revoked.
Portuguese police have said that they believe Madeleine, who disappeared last May 3 just a few days short of her fourth birthday, died in the McCanns rented holiday apartment in Praia da Luz and that her parents then disposed of her body.
Sources, meanwhile, told 24 Horas that comments made by Ribeiro in the last few days indicated that he was preparing to shelve the case without bringing charges against the McCanns, and that officials were preparing an "exit strategy."
One high-ranking official told the Portuguese newspaper Diario de Noticias: "[Ribeiro] has dropped the case."