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Madeleine file passed to judge

  • Story Highlights
  • Options could include authorizing further search warrants
  • Gerry McCann: "We played absolutely no part in Madeleine's abduction"
  • Portuguese police named both parents suspects in the disappearance
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PRAIA DA LUZ, Portugal (CNN) -- The Portuguese prosecutor Tuesday gave a judge the files on the case of Madeleine McCann, the missing British girl who vanished in Portugal more than four months ago, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office said.

art.mccann.ap.jpg

Gerry McCann, right, father of Madeleine McCann, receives a visitor Monday at their Rothley home.

Luisa Duarte would not say why the files were being handed to the judge. The options could include authorizing further search warrants or changing the status of the girl's parents, who last week were questioned and named "arguidos" -- suspects -- in the case.

The prosecutor handed the case to the judge hours after it was given to him to review by Portuguese police in Portimao, police Chief Inspector Olegario de Sousa told CNN.

Kate and Gerry McCann have maintained their innocence, most recently in a blog entry posted by Gerry McCann late Monday.

"We have absolute confidence that, when all of the facts are presented together, we will be able to demonstrate that we played absolutely no part in Madeleine's abduction," McCann's posting said.

"We could never possibly have imagined being put in this unbearable situation."

A family spokesman said authorities found Madeleine's blood in a car the family rented 25 days after reporting her disappearance in May.

And the Portuguese television station SIC, citing police sources, reported that DNA matches to the girl were found in the car.

Police put the couple through intensive questioning before declaring them "arguidos," or suspects, on Friday.

Under Portuguese law, investigators can pose certain types of questions to arguidos who, in turn, get legal protections that are not extended to witnesses.

If they are charged, the McCanns -- who left Portugal Sunday to return to their home in Rothley, England -- will have five days to present themselves to police in Portugal, de Sousa said.

Brian Kennedy, Kate McCann's uncle, told reporters Monday that the McCanns would return to Portugal if asked to do so.

In a statement Sunday to reporters at East Midlands Airport, Gerry McCann described as "deeply disturbing" the days since Portuguese authorities named them as suspects in the disappearance of their daughter.

"We have played no part in the disappearance of our lovely daughter Madeleine," he said, his voice breaking.

Portuguese Law

• Formal suspect called "arguido," or "arguida" for a woman
• An "arguido" has more legal rights than a witness, including right to remain silent and have a lawyer
• Some people request to be declared "arguido" to get this protection
•Police must declare a witness an "arguido" before asking certain questions or making an arrest
• Courts may restrict movements of an "arguido"
• An arrest or charge does not always follow someone being named an "arguido"

In an interview published in the Sunday Mirror, Kate McCann is quoted as saying of the Portuguese police, "They want me to lie -- I'm being framed."

Portuguese authorities have not commented publicly on evidence or interviews in the case.

The parents reported Madeleine abducted May 3, saying they had left her and their two-year-old twins asleep in their resort apartment in Praia da Luz, southern Portugal, as they dined just yards away.

Philomena McCann, the sister of Madeleine's father, told the British network ITN on Friday that police "tried to get Kate to confess to having accidentally killed Madeleine by offering her a deal through her lawyer" in which she would say she killed Madeleine by accident "and then disposed of the body."

The Sunday Mirror quoted Kate McCann discussing the offer in an interview with the paper.

"They are basically saying, 'If you confess Madeleine had an accident, and that I panicked and hid the body in a bag for a month, then got rid of it in a hire car, I'd get two or three years' suspended sentence,'" she is quoted as saying, adding, "Police don't want a murder in Portugal."

Friends and relatives of the McCanns have dismissed as farfetched any suggestion they could have harmed their daughter.

On Saturday, Kate McCann's mother Susan Healy told ITN, "It's ludicrous. It's bizarre. ... Kate never raises her voice to her children. She's the most loving and gentle mother."

The McCanns and their friends and relatives say they are holding out hope that Madeleine will be found alive.

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The girl's disappearance more than four months ago received prominent coverage both in the UK and internationally, with celebrities, including soccer icon David Beckham, offering their help to draw attention to the case and raise money for the search.

The parents traveled abroad to drum up support and met with Pope Benedict XVI. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About Madeleine McCann

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