McCann was last seen on May 3, 2007, while vacationing with her parents at a resort on the Portuguese coast. Authorities believe she may have been kidnapped.
20 September (News) — A European court on Tuesday ruled against the parents of Madeleine McCann, the three-year-old girl who disappeared years ago in Portugal, in their lawsuit against a detective who says they were involved in their daughter’s disappearance.
The girl was never found, but Kate and Gerry McCann later sued Portuguese police detective Goncalo Amaral, who wrote a book about the case, accusing her of involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance.
Years ago, a court in Lisbon ordered Amaral to pay about $570,000 in damages for defamation, but the decision was later overturned by an appeals court and Portugal’s Supreme Court.
On Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights unanimously sided with Amaral, saying the McCanns were known to be suspects before Amaral’s book came out.
“The information was thus brought to the public’s attention in detail before the investigation file was made available to the media and the book in question was published,” he said in his verdict.
“The court considered that even if it were accepted that the applicants’ reputations had been damaged, this was not based on the reasoning of the book’s author, but on the suspicion expressed against them which had led to their discontinuance on the subject of investigations within the framework of the criminal investigation.”
Police acquitted McCann’s parents about a year after their disappearance.
The McCanns insist Amaral’s charges may also have hampered the search for Madeleine.
“If the public believed that we were involved in their disappearance, people would not heed possible leads and might not pass relevant information to the appropriate law enforcement agencies,” they said, according to Sky News.
“The focus now is rightly on the search for Madeleine and her kidnapper(s).”
If she were alive, Madeleine McCann would be 18 years old now.