Page last updated at 11:43 GMT, Wednesday, 14 May 2008 12:43 UK

Judge extends Madeleine secrecy

Kate and Gerry McCann
Kate and Gerry McCann and were officially named suspects in September

A Portuguese judge overseeing the Madeleine McCann inquiry has extended judicial secrecy by a further three months, court officials have confirmed.

The files would otherwise have been open for consultation from Thursday by those involved in the case, including Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry.

They are formal suspects, as is Briton Robert Murat, but all deny involvement.

Madeleine, of Rothley, Leicestershire, disappeared from a holiday apartment in the Algarve on 3 May last year.

Secrecy rules loosened

The decision by the judge, which was widely expected, follows a request from prosecutors in the case.

It means that neither the formal suspects in the case nor other interested parties, including the media, can gain access to details of the investigations until mid-August.

Most Portuguese legal experts are reported to believe that legislation that took effect last year, loosening Portugal's strict secrecy rules, will not permit yet another extension.

The McCanns were officially named suspects, known in Portugal as being given "arguido" status, in September.

They launched a new campaign for information ahead of the first anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance.

They had also called on Portuguese detectives to open their files, so they could find out what leads were being pursued.

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