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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 September 2007, 21:45 GMT 22:45 UK
McCann files to be given to judge
The McCanns at East Midlands Airport
Gerry McCann has described the investigation as "a nightmare"
Portuguese prosecutors are to hand to a judge the files on missing four-year-old Madeleine McCann.

Madeleine's parents - who have been named as suspects - are now waiting to hear what action will be taken.

BBC reporter Caroline Hawley said the options available to the judge included ordering more search warrants and changing the McCanns' "arguido" status.

It had been thought the prosecutor would take longer to study the files, our correspondent said.

On Monday, police gave their files to the Algarve-based prosecutor, Jose Cunha de Magalhaes e Meneses, for him to decide how to proceed with the case.

Independent criminal lawyer Dr Joao Oliveira Trindade told the BBC that the prosecutor could recommend charging Kate and Gerry McCann or could make another request such as imposing restrictions on their movements.

Speaking outside the prosecutor's office in Portimao on Tuesday, assistant Luisa Duarte said Mr Cunha de Magalhaes e Meneses had received the papers and decided they should go before an instructional judge.

The judge has 10 days to make a decision on the files' contents.

A district prosecutor - Luis Bilro Verao - has also been appointed to oversee the investigation in addition to the local prosecutor in charge.

Portugal's Attorney General, Fernando Jose Pinto Monteiro, said that the investigation had not ended.

He said that further police action was necessary after which there could be a reassessment of possible bail conditions for the suspects.

He had full confidence in the way the police and prosecutors were handling the McCann investigation, he said.

DNA evidence

Portuguese police are playing down reports that DNA evidence with a 100% match to Madeleine was found in her parents' hire car.

Alipio Ribeiro, national director of the investigative Policia Judiciaria (PJ), told Portuguese state broadcaster RTP: "We can't say with certainty whether it was the blood of person A or person B.

"They help guide us in our investigation but not with the mathematical precision some people are saying."

ARGUIDO/ARGUIDA STATUS
Officially a suspect
Bestowed by police or requested by individual
Right to remain silent
Right to a lawyer

The McCanns are back at their home in Rothley in Leicestershire where Mr McCann has described the events of the past week as an "unending nightmare".

In his blog, Mr McCann said he and his wife had absolute confidence that when all the facts were presented they would be able to show that "we played no part in Madeleine's abduction".

The couple, both 39, were declared formal suspects last week.

Madeleine's aunt, Philomena McCann, said the handing over of the files to the judge "was expected".

"It doesn't change a thing," she said. "We will have to wait and see if they are bringing charges or not.

"If they bring charges against Kate and Gerry that will give them a chance to clear their name."

Social services

Madeleine, who was three at the time she disappeared, was reported missing from the McCanns' apartment in Praia da Luz, in the Algarve, on 3 May.

The McCanns returned home to the UK on Sunday with their two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie.

Madeleine McCann
Madeleine McCann's fourth birthday was just after she went missing

The following day, police and social services in Leicestershire met to discuss the implications for the family of the developments in the case.

And on Tuesday, the McCanns were visited at home by Leicestershire Police's head of criminal investigations, Detective Chief Superintendent Bob Small.

No bail conditions, travel restrictions or charges have been imposed on the couple, who were questioned separately for more than 24 hours last week.

But they can be recalled to Portugal with five days' notice.

Sniffer dogs

The BBC's Richard Bilton said cleaners had visited the McCanns' rented villa in Praia da Luz since their departure, but there had been no police activity.

He said the forensic case centred on the McCann's car, hired from the Budget rental chain on 27 May.

Satellite vans in Rothley
The media has swamped the village of Rothley

The McCanns' hire car, which they acquired more than three weeks after she was last seen, was searched by sniffer dogs from Britain in early August.

Last week, according to her family, detectives put to Mrs McCann the suggestion that her daughter's blood had been found inside the car.

Forensic investigator Professor David Barclay, who specialises in cold cases, said if blood had been found in the couple's hire car it could conceivably have been from their twins.

He told BBC East Midlands Today that siblings can share as many as 15 out of 20 DNA indicators.

Portuguese lawyer, Artur Rego, said that to recommend charges, the prosecutor would have to provide the judge with a formal report laying out the accusation, the evidence and the motive.

The judge must then decide whether there is enough evidence to proceed.




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