Portuguese police have apologized to Madeleine McCann’s parents for their investigation into the missing toddler’s case.
The three-year-old disappeared during a family holiday in the Algarve in May 2007, sparking a nationwide manhunt.
Immediately after the little girl’s disappearance, her parents Gerry and Kate McCann were declared “arguidos” – or suspects – by Portuguese police.
Her parents were questioned by investigators who suspected the couple had staged a kidnapping and hidden their daughter’s body.
Ms McCann later said she had been offered a deal in which she would receive a shorter sentence if she admitted covering up her Madeleine’s death.
Now, more than 16 years later, several senior police officers traveled from Lisbon to London to apologize to Mr McCann, police officers told BBC’s Panorama.
The main suspect in the current case is 46-year-old German citizen Christian Brückner. The convicted pedophile, who is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence, is accused by investigators of killing Madeline in Portugal but has yet to be formally charged.
Madeleine McCann went missing during a family holiday in the Algarve in May 2007, sparking a nationwide manhunt
Cops have now told the BBC’s Panorama program that several senior police officers traveled from Lisbon to London earlier this year to meet Madeleine’s father Gerry McCann (pictured with his wife Kate McCann earlier this year).
The main suspect in the current case is 46-year-old German citizen Christian Brückner
The couple’s status as Arguidos was revoked in 2008, but remained under suspicion in the country for years, largely pointing to the investigation’s original lead investigator, Goncalo Amaral.
Amaral was later dismissed from the investigation, but continued to insist on air and in his book that the pair were “still suspicious.”
The McCann’s had attempted to sue him for libel over the claims made in his book, but this was dismissed by the Portuguese Supreme Court.
The parents then tried to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights, but failed in September last year.
Amaral’s claims came amid a horrific online campaign against the grieving mother and father, accusing them of a cover-up.
Police have now apologized for their handling of the case and the way the family was treated.
Officials have now admitted that the missing children were not given enough importance at the time of Maddy’s disappearance, adding that they should have been more understanding of their parents’ situation as foreigners, according to the BBC.
Immediately after the little girl’s disappearance, her parents Gerry and Kate McCann were declared “arguidos” – or suspects – by Portuguese police. Pictured: The McCann’s hold a poster in 2012
Police officers continue to investigate little Maddy’s disappearance 16 years later
Portuguese police also informed the McCann’s of the ongoing investigation and assisted German authorities, who believe Christian Brückner, a 46-year-old German citizen, killed Madeleine.
Christian Wolters – one of the German prosecutors working on the long-running case – told the broadcaster of the apology: “It’s a good sign.” “It shows that there is a development in Portugal in the McCann case.”
Brückner is currently serving a seven-year sentence in a high-security prison, dubbed the “Alcatraz of the North” by locals, in Oldenburg, near the historic northern city of Bremen.
Earlier this month it was reported that the suspect could go on trial as early as February next year for a series of heinous crimes, including three shocking rapes and two sexual attacks on children.
The trial is expected to last over a month and is expected to take place at the Braunschweig Higher Regional Court.
German prosecutors have not yet formally charged Brückner with Maddy’s kidnapping and murder, but authorities in Germany have indicated that McCann’s trial could take place shortly after his upcoming trial, The Olive Press reported.