Madeleine investigation to be shelved as police 'pack their bags' and prepare to go homeLast updated at 11:15 21 November 2007
Portuguese police are set to shelve the Madeleine McCann investigation, it was sensationally claimed today.
Senior detectives led by Paulo Rebelo are preparing to pack their bags and leave the Algarve to return to Lisbon, Portuguese daily 24 horas said.
The tabloid claimed Policia Judiciaria national director Alipio Ribeiro was considering dismantling the team sent especially from the Portuguese capital to investigate the case.
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Still suspects: After coming home without their daughter, Gerry and Kate McCann remain suspects
Read more...The revelation comes just seven weeks after Mr Rebelo took over from disgraced former chief investigator Goncalo Amaral and launched a massive review of evidence.
Portuguese police are still waiting for full DNA results from tests on Gerry and Kate McCann's hire car and holiday flat to come back - but do not expect them to provide a breakthrough or alter their belief Madeleine is dead.
A police source told Portuguese daily 24 horas: "We are practically back where we started.
"The parents are still the prime suspects in hiding their daughter's body, not of her death which was probably accidental, but there is no firm proof."
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The search for Madeleine McCann, missing since May 3rd, could be soon wound upAnother source said: "No proof has been collected up until now that incriminates anybody. The laboratory results received up until now do not allow us to reach any conclusions."
The paper added: "Detectives are getting ready to pack their bags. Given the current state of the investigation, police chiefs are considering demobilising the team sent specifically to investigate the case and are even planning on moving Paulo Rebelo, the head of the investigation, onto tasks of greater responsibility."
Portuguese police have also abandoned plans to participate in fresh interviews of Gerry and Kate McCann and the rest of the so-called Tapas Nine who ate together the night Madeleine disappeared, 24 horas claimed.
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Time to go home: Head of the investigation Paulo Rebelo is said to be on the brink of being moved to a more important assignmentThey will simply send a legal letter to authorities in Leicestershire with 100 questions they want answering, the paper reported.
That claim contradicts a report in another Portuguese newspaper on Tuesday which said that detectives were preparing to fly to the UK to assist with the interviews "within days."
Mr Ribeiro recently admitted that there may never be arrests over Madeleine McCann's disappearance.
He said in an interview: "I still don't know if there are going to be any arrests.
"A criminal investigation cannot produce miracles. We still do not have the solution."
Portuguese police are still thought to be waiting for UK mobile phone operators to provide them with a list of calls made by the McCanns on May 3 as well as the full DNA test results.
The suggestion the Madeleine McCann inquiry is about to be shelved will come as a devastating blow to her parents - and leave them suspects for life.
Robert Murat, the third arguido or official suspect alongside Gerry and Kate, would also be left in limbo.
Earlier this month it was reported that police had scaled back their investigation because they were running out of money.
The six month investigation is known to have put immense financial pressure on the Judicial Police.
The McCanns brought in their own private investigators after lawyers claimed leads were not being properly followed up.
And it was reported the McCanns may sue police for £1million for failing to find their daughter and for bungling the investigation.
The McCanns believe a string of policing errors in the early stages of the probe allowed Madeleine's abductor to escape.
A recent Sunday newspaper report claimed Portuguese detectives planned to close the case by Christmas.
Police were quoted as admitting that "unless a new piece of evidence falls out of the sky" the hunt would be wrapped up in a matter of weeks.
A police source told the Sunday Mirror police believed Madeleine, three when she disappeared, would never be found - and were happy for the shadow of suspicion to hang over the McCanns.
A friend of the McCanns said that winding down the hunt for Madeleine would be the worst-case scenario for the family.
He said: "The worst thing that could happen is for the case to close and Gerry and Kate to remain official suspects."
The McCanns firmly believe their daughter was snatched by an abductor from her bed at the Ocean Club holiday apartment.
But Portuguese police are convinced Madeleine is dead and her parents were involved in hiding her body, possibly with help from their friends.
Detectives believe the parents, named as "arguidos" or formal suspects in September, hid the body for three weeks and then moved it in their Renault Scenic hire car.
The McCanns and their friends all strenuously deny any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-495380/Madeleine-investigation-shelved-police-pack-bags-prepare-home.html#ixzz1JSnpqVjf