McCann parents lose libel case against Portuguese ex-detective

Missing

(NewsNation) — Madeleine McCann’s parents faced another loss in court Tuesday after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled against their challenge to the Portuguese Supreme Court of Justice’s decision to throw out their libel case against Goncalo Amaral, an ex-detective who implicated the couple in their daughter’s 2007 disappearance.

The verdict is just the latest clash between Kate and Gerry McCann and Amaral, who published a book (“Truth of the Lie”) and spoke in a documentary and newspaper, alluding to what he alleged to be the couple’s involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance.

After initially winning in a Libson court in 2015, with a verdict that required Amaral to pay an estimated $490,000 in damages, an appeals court overturned the decision in 2016. A year later, the McCanns took the case to the Portuguese Supreme Court of Justice, which ended up siding with the appeals court decision.

The ECHR was the couple’s last-ditch effort at restitution, but seven judges unanimously decided they had no case.

A press release issued by the ECHR said:

“Even assuming that the applicants’ reputation had been damaged, this was not on account of the argument put forward by the book’s author but rather as a result of the suspicions expressed against them, which had led to their being placed under investigation in the course of the criminal investigation (the prosecutor’s office decided to take no further action in July 2008) and had led to intense media attention and much controversy.

The information had thus been brought to the public’s attention in some detail even before the investigation file was made available to the media and the book in question was published. It followed that the national authorities had not failed in their positive obligation to protect the applicants’ right to respect for their private life.

European Court of Human Rights

The McCanns’ lawyer, Ricardo Correia Afonso, told NBC in a statement that his clients were “disappointed” with the outcome, adding that “much has changed” since they started the proceedings.

Afonso also said they would not appeal.

“We took action for one and only one reason: Mr. Amaral’s unfounded claims were having a detrimental impact on the search for Madeleine,” the statement read.

“The focus is now rightly on the search for Madeleine and her abductor(s). We are grateful for the ongoing work by the British, German and Portuguese police,” the statement continued.

The closest the case came to being solved involved a German handyman named Christian Bruckner. Bruckner worked as a handyman at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz, where the McCanns were staying.

After being named a potential suspect in 2017, Bruckner was officially identified as a suspect in the case this past April, although he denies any involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance.

It has been nearly 15 years since the British 3-year-old went missing while vacationing with her family in Portugal.

Rewards for finding Madeleine McCann have reached several million dollars.

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