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Maddie McCann parents win 500,000 euros in Portugal libel case

A former Portuguese police officer who headed the investigation into the 2007 disappearance of British girl Madeleine McCann was ordered to pay 500,000 euros to her parents in a libel case, according to a ruling made public on Tuesday.

Kate and Gerry McCann sued Goncalo Amaral, the former head of the investigation, over his 2008 book called “The Truth of the Lie” in which he accused the couple of concealing the body of their daughter after she died accidentally.

Madeleine disappeared from her room on May 3, 2007, just days before her fourth birthday, in the small seaside resort of Praia da Luz in southern Portugal where she was on vacation with his family.

In a written verdict, the Lisbon court ordered Amaral to pay each parent “compensation of 250,000 euros ($ 274,000).”

The court also ordered Amaral and his publishers to withdraw all copies of the book in circulation and prohibited any reissuing of the book. It also banned broadcasts of a documentary based on his allegations.

During the trial, the McCanns tried to show that Amaral’s book had hindered the search for their daughter and had asked for 1.2 million euros in compensation.

The couple said they were “delighted” with the verdict.

“We want to emphasise the action was never about money. It was entirely focused on the effect of the libels on our other children and the damage that was done to the search for Madeleine,” they said in a statement issued through the McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell.

Portuguese police closed their investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance in 2008 after 14 months but reopened the case five years later.

British police opened their own investigation in July 2013 and have since made several trips to Portugal. Excavations last summer revealed “no evidence” according Scotland Yard, but four people were indicted in July.

“A lot has changed in the six years since we launched the action and we are pleased that there is still an active investigation in both Portugal and the UK,” the McCanns added in their statement.

“We would like to remind people that there is still an innocent little girl who is missing and that those responsible for her abduction remain at large.”