Chief investigator in missing Madeleine case dismissed

Chief investigator in missing Madeleine case dismissed

2 October 2007
Agence France Presse

The detective leading the inquiry into the disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann in Portugal was dismissed on Tuesday, Portuguese police chief Alipio Ribeiro said.

"This decision was taken by the national director," he told news radio TSF without giving further details.

Portuguese media reported earlier that Goncalo Amaral had been sacked because he criticised British police working with the investigation in comments published earlier on Tuesday in daily newspaper Diario de Noticias.

Amaral told the paper that British police "have been investigating leads created and cultivated" by Madeleine's parents Gerry and Kate "forgetting that the couple are suspects in the death of their daughter".

"The British police have been working solely on what the McCanns want and on what suits them," he added.

Portuguese police have declared the McCanns as suspects in the disappearance of their daughter, who vanished from her bedroom in a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, southern Portugal, on May 3 just before her fourth birthday while her parents were out.

Amaral was reacting to British media reports that an e-mail was sent to Prince Charles alleging that Madeleine had been abducted by a former employee of the holiday apartment in an act of revenge for being fired.

"This situation has been completely excluded. It has no credibility for Portuguese police. That story of a kidnapping for vengeance is another fact worked on by the McCanns," he said.

"It is not an e-mail, especially an anonymous one, which is easy to determine where it came from. That is going to distract us from our line of inquiry," he added.

Kate and Gerry, who are both doctors, strongly deny any role in Madeleine's disappearance and have led an international campaign to raise awareness of the case.

One of the McCanns' two Portuguese lawyers, Carlos Pinto Abreu, told TSF radio earlier that Amaral's comments were "chauvanistic".

"I think it is in a very bad tone. It would be useful if police cooperated," he said.

The investigation into Madeleine's disappearance initially focused on the possibility that the girl had been kidnapped.

But earlier this month Portuguese police named Kate and Gerry as suspects after receiving the results of forensic tests carried out at a laboratory in England on items found in the holiday apartment and a car the couple rented.

Ribeiro however has said that the forensic tests on the car were not conclusive and he expected the investigation to continue.

The British press has remained largely supportive of the couple and very critical of the Portuguese police investigation, with Amaral a favourite target.

Britain's Sunday Mirror claimed over the weekend that Amaral had a habit of taking a "long, boozy lunch" and said his "beer belly spilling over his baggy jeans" made him look "more like a holidaymaker than a detective".

Many Portuguese newspapers meanwhile have been full of stories sourced to anonymous police offices which accuse the couple of accidentally killing their daughter and trying to cover up the cause of her death.

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