Report: Forensic Evidence Found in Rental Car Implicates Madeleine McCann's Parents
Portuguese Police on Tuesday handed the results of their investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann to a prosecutor, who will decide whether to bring charges against the parents of the missing British girl, an official said.
"We're now in possession of it," an official at the attorney general's office, which oversees public prosecutors, told The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with department rules.
Sky News and the Times of London reported Tuesday that forensic evidence discovered in a car rented weeks after Madeleine's disappearance implicated the parents.
According to the reports, Police suspect that Kate and Gerry McCann must have placed Madeleine's body in the vehicle because the amount of hair found inside was too much to have come from her clothes or a blanket.
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Madeleine's parents, who were named as suspects Friday but were allowed to return to Britain pending further investigation, maintain they can prove they had nothing to do with their 4-year-old daughter's disappearance from a resort hotel room in southern Portugal.
"We have absolute confidence that, when all of the facts are presented together, we will be able to demonstrate that we played absolutely no part in Madeleine's abduction," Gerry McCann wrote in a statement posted on his Web site www.findmadeleine.com.
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The case file amounted to more than 1,000 pages of evidence, police spokesman Olegario Sousa said. Neither official would give details of the evidence, citing the secrecy laws covering ongoing investigations.
The public prosecutor can bring charges against the suspects, request specific leads be pursued further, or he can decide to drop the case altogether. Although the process could take months, Sousa said he expected the prosecutor to "quickly decide" on a course of action.
Until Friday, the only formal suspect was Robert Murat, a British man who lived near the hotel from which Madeleine vanished. He has not been charged, and he has said he is innocent.
Madeleine's disappearance, and her parents' publicity campaign to find her, have attracted worldwide attention.
For 16 weeks, police centered their attention on an apparent case of abduction, but they switched their focus last week after reports that forensic tests conducted at a government laboratory in Britain found DNA evidence indicating that Madeleine's body had been in the vehicle rented by her parents.
However, Portugal's national police chief, Alipio Ribeiro, said Monday night that the DNA tests were not conclusive.
"We can't say with certainty whether it was the blood of person 'A' or person 'B,"' Ribeiro told Portuguese state broadcaster RTP.
Sky News initially reported that DNA found in the car was a perfect match to Madeliene's, but later reported it was only an 88% match.
Ribeiro said police have followed up hundreds of reported sightings of Madeleine, many from abroad, but have found no trace of her.
The McCanns, with their 2-year-old twins Sean and Amelie, returned Sunday to their home in central England.
Although police allowed the McCanns, both doctors, to return to Britain, officials say they may want to question them again. The McCanns have to inform Portuguese authorities if they intend to be away from home longer than five consecutive days.
Asked about the possibility of imposing further restrictions on the movements of the McCanns, such as forcing them to return and remain in Portugal, Ribeiro said: "I don't think that's probable. I don't see any need for changing the current restrictions."
The McCanns have hired a high-profile legal team that includes Michael Caplan, who represented former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet when Spain tried to extradite him from Britain in 1999.
The McCanns face further anguish as local social service and medical officials gauge whether any action should be taken over the care of their other children.
Officials would consider the safety of children whose parents faced criminal investigations, said a spokeswoman for Britain's Local Government Association, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with department policy.
The administrators of a $2 million fund set up to help find Madeleine were investigating whether some of the money could be used to help pay the McCanns' legal bills, Britain's Press Association quoted an unidentified family friend as saying.
Sky News, the London Times and the Associated Press contributed to this report.