Portuguese police reportedly ending search for Madeleine McCann

Nation's newspapers say Public Prosecutor's office intend to close investigation of British girl's disappearance due to lack of evidence.

McCann 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
McCann 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Portuguese police are dropping their investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann due to a lack of evidence, media reported Tuesday. Two Portuguese newspapers said the Public Prosecutor's office intended to call off their search for the British girl before July 14, when the customary official secrecy period covering the investigation ends. Police could reopen the case if new evidence emerges, the papers said. The papers - Correio da Manha and Jornal de Noticias - cited unidentified police sources. Officials could not immediately be reached for comment before office hours Tuesday. Madeleine McCann went missing in Portugal's southern Algarve region during a family vacation in May last year, a few days before her fourth birthday. Detectives named her parents, Kate and Gerry, and local man Robert Murat as formal suspects in the case. All denied involvement in Madeleine's disappearance. The McCanns, who launched an international campaign to find their daughter, returned home to central England with Madeleine's younger twin sister and brother last September, a few days after they were named as suspects. Clarence Mitchell, the parents' spokesman, told Sky News they were trying to confirm the reports but said he expected the search for Madeleine to continue. "The police, if they are to shelve this without any charges ... then we would hope, surely it's only common sense, they would continue to search for a missing child," he said. He said private investigators for the McCanns were continuing to sift material and wanted access to the police files, and lawyers would discuss that possibility with Portuguese authorities. He added: "Kate and Gerry will never give up the search for their daughter." The case has drawn global interest. A few weeks after Madeleine vanished, Pope Benedict XVI blessed the McCanns and a photo of their daughter during his weekly general audience at the Vatican. British and Portuguese police have cooperated in the investigation. Sophisticated forensic tests on evidence gathered at the resort where the girl disappeared were carried out in Britain. In April, British police in England, accompanied by Portuguese detectives, re-interviewed the McCanns' friends who were having dinner with them when Madeleine vanished.