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Maddie judge not allowed to speak to media

Original Source: NEWS AU: 19 SEPTEMBER 2011
From correspondents in Lisbon
September 19, 2007 05:21am
A PORTUGUESE judicial council refused overnight to allow the judge handling the case of missing British girl Madeleine McCann to speak publicly about the investigation to satisfy intense media interest.

Judge Pedro Frias, faced with unprecedented media pressure, had asked the national council of judges to allow him to explain to the public the progress of the criminal investigation into the girl's disappearance.

The Portuguese newspaper Correio de Manha reported that Judge Frias believed the move was necessary "to take into account the extreme media interest taken in the criminal investigation".

But the council, which met earlier to consider the unusual request, said it saw no need to break Portuguese judicial procedure for the sake of the mainly British media.

"The 'Madeleine case' has not yet gone past the investigation stage," it said in its ruling, adding that the request had been refused to protect the rights of the suspects.

Police have named Madeleine's parents, 39-year-old doctors Gerry and Kate McCann, as the main suspects in the disappearance of their daughter from her bedroom while the family was holidaying in southern Portugal in May. She was three at the time.

Portuguese and foreign media have reported contradictory rumours about the inquiry and the case against the couple.

Police meanwhile have provided no information about their suspicions, in line with Portuguese legal procedure.

They have presented their formal case against the couple to prosecutors, who submitted it to the investigating magistrate.

The magistrate has 10 days to decide what further lines of inquiry to pursue.

The McCanns have been under virtual siege from the media since their return to the village of Rothley, central England, shortly after they were named as suspects.

The McCanns continue to protest their innocence.

Madeleine was sleeping in the same room as her younger twin brother and sister at the resort of Praia da Luz when she disappeared on May 3 while her parents enjoyed a night with friends at a nearby tapas bar.

She would have celebrated her fourth birthday on May 12.


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