Maddie McCann's parents return to Portugal

Other News Materials 10 December 2009 14:32 (UTC +04:00)

The parents of missing British girl Madeleine McCann were on Thursday returning to Portugal for a libel trial against a former policeman who investigated their daughter's disappearance, a spokesman said, AFP reported.

Kate and Gerry McCann launched legal action against Goncalo Amaral for suggesting in the media that their daughter was dead and his "disgraceful thesis" they were somehow involved in her disappearance.

The McCanns are planning to attend the opening of the trial in Lisbon on Friday against Amaral, spokesman Clarence Mitchell said on Wednesday.

"I can confirm that Kate and Gerry McCann will be travelling to Portugal on Thursday to attend the opening of the defamation case," he said. "They only intend to appear at the opening and I would expect that they will return to the UK fairly swiftly."

Madeleine, who would now be six years old, went missing from a holiday apartment in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz as her parents and their friends were eating at a nearby restaurant.

The former Algarve police chief was in charge of the investigation into her disappearance when her parents were made official suspects in September 2007.

Amaral was removed from the case a month later, and Portuguese prosecutors announced in July 2008 that the McCanns were no longer suspects or "arguidos."

A Portuguese court in September this year issued an injunction banning sales of Amaral's subsequent book "The Truth of the Lie" about Madeleine's disappearance and from repeating his claims in the media.

Despite an investigation by Portuguese and British police, and huge publicity worldwide, she has not been found.

Portuguese police are no longer investigating the case, but other investigators acting on the couple's behalf are still looking for the missing girl and appealing to the public for information.