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Maddie libel case suspended in Portugal

Published on 13/09/2013

Libel proceedings brought by the parents of missing British girl Madeleine McCann against a former Portuguese detective who wrote a book about the case were abruptly suspended on Friday.

The Lisbon court had been due to hear evidence from members of the McCann family about the effect that the book by Goncalo Amaral had on them and the search for Madeleine, who was three when she disappeared in 2007 as the family holidayed on the Algarve.

But proceedings were halted during the afternoon of the second day of the hearing.

“The judge had a problem. We are going to propose that the witnesses give their testimonies in written form so they do not have to return from Britain again, but it is not certain that this will be accepted by the court,” a lawyer for the McCann family told AFP.

Kate McCann left the court surrounded by family members and climbed into a black car to avoid the cameras outside the building.

Inside the courtroom, she had avoided the gaze of Amaral, who led the Portuguese police investigation.

He claims he was fully entitled to write the book under Portuguese law. In it, he advances the theory that Madeleine died accidentally and that her parents were implicated in her death.

The family is seeking the equivalent of £1 million (1.2 million euros, $1.6 million) in damages.

David Trickey — the psychologist who has been helping the McCanns’ two other children, twins Sean and Amelie, since 2007 — told the court he was concerned that they would one day be able to read Amaral’s book.

“Everything that impacts the parents also has an impact on the children,” he said.

“But I’m also concerned about the growing of the children… They will have increasing access to the contents of the book.

“It’s important for them to know that the world is safe and the parents will protect them.”

He added: “I’m worried that the book doesn’t suggest a possibility but comes to a conclusion.”

The McCanns have unsuccessfully tried to ban the book. It was taken off sale but is now back on the shelves.

British police said in August they were opening their own investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance. She was just a few days short of her fourth birthday when she vanished.

Her parents believe she was kidnapped and is still alive.