Goncalo Amaral: "It is not a declaration of innocence"

Portuguese ex-police chief says Maddie decision 'rushed': report

LISBON (AFP) — The former head of Portuguese Police on Tuesday criticised the decision to close the inquiry into the disappearance of missing toddler Madeleine McCann saying it had been taken too quickly, a report said.

"A case of disappearance of a minor cannot be closed, for a lack of evidence, so soon after the tragedy," said Alipio Ribeiro in a report by the daily Diario Economico.

"A rushed closure can be harmful... perhaps definitively, to subsequent clarification," said the former director of the Portuguese national police.

It would "have perhaps been more sensible" to have lifted the arguido (suspect) status of those formally named in the case while continuing to pursue the inquiry in other directions, he added.

Meanwhile, the retired senior detective who led the investigation said the decision to close the case did not mean Madeleine's parents, medical doctors Kate and Gerry McCann, had been cleared.

"It is not a declaration of innocence," said Goncalo Amaral who was sacked from the investigation last October for criticising British Police.

The authorities "are not saying that they are innocent," added Amaral who is due to publish a book this month.

In his book, due to be published this month, Amaral has promised to give "facts" to back up his conviction that Madeleine "died in the apartment" rented by her parents.

Madeleine McCann went missing in May 2007, days before her fourth birthday, from the holiday flat in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz as her parents dined at a nearby restaurant.
On Monday, Portuguese authorities closed the investigation and lifted the "suspect" label from her parents and British property consultant Robert Murat due to lack of evidence. Murat last week accepted six-figure libel damages from several newspapers over allegations he was involved in her disappearance.

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