OTR Interviews

Rights Madeleine McCann's Parents Have Under Portuguese Law

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," September 7, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: But first, a jolting new development in the search for Madeleine McCann.

The 4-year-old toddler has been missing for more than four months. According to a family friend, Portuguese police have zeroed in on someone, Madeleine's mother. She is now a suspect. But that's not all. The sources also say Madeleine's father will soon be named a suspect, as well. Did anyone see this new wrinkle coming?

Our panel is with us for the entire hour. In Los Angeles, former assistant DA Jim Hammer and attorney Gloria Allred. In New York, forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden, and here in Washington, defense attorneys Ted Williams and Bernie Grimm.

But first, criminal and labor attorney Tiago Masedo joins us in Portugal to explain what the Portuguese term for suspect, "arguido," means. Welcome, sir. And what does "arguido" mean under your law, sir?

TIAGO MASEDO, PORTUGUESE ATTORNEY: Hi. Good afternoon. Here in Portugal, the name "arguido" doesn't mean that somebody is guilty for something. It's a position that is given by the state to a person that the state itself and criminal police found some evidence that could relate them as maybe being involved on the crime.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, what we are hearing, sir, in the United States is that Sky News, which is a sister network to us, is reporting that the mother of the child, Kate, has been offered a deal -- no more than two years in prison if she, quote, "confessed to accidental death of her daughter." Would you expect, under your law, at this sort of state of the affairs, that even though she's an arguido and not a charged person, that a deal would be offered to her?

MASEDO: No. By the Portuguese system, that offer can't be made by the Portuguese legal authorities.

VAN SUSTEREN: So we shouldn't read anything into this necessarily? This is still just the early stages?

MASEDO: Yes. Definitely. What has happened is there were witnesses, or probably witnesses. And from some evidence that they found on the case, they've transformed them from witnesses in terms (ph) in being arguidos. That means somebody that's not been legally charged, but also has some defense prerogatives. For instance, the arguido can be silent with the questions that are made by the police. And the witness come (ph). In Portugal, they've got to tell everything they know because if they don't tell, they will go to prison for it.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Are both parents free to leave Portugal tonight, if they want to?

MASEDO: For this moment (ph), I haven't seen the case itself, but probably they will -- they will be on some measures. I haven't read the case itself, but they might put some measures on them. It means that they might be able to leave the country, but they've got to tell the Portuguese authorities.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. In the event that they move on to the next step -- let's say the mother becomes a more formal suspect, as we might think here in the United States -- is there a timeframe when we would expect that someone would be formally charged, if police believe that this is truly the person who has done something?

MASEDO: Well, that will depend on the police investigation. When they've conformed (ph) somebody an arguido from being a witness, normally, they already have quite a strong -- let's call it, a strong case. But then they've got to go through the investigation to see (INAUDIBLE). This investigation has been going on for quite a few months. So we can might expect to wait for a few months to be the legal -- to have the legal charge on them, if, if, if, they file them.

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, if, indeed. Tiago, thank you very much for joining us.

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