Madeleine McCann questioning shocked suspect

By Richard Bilton
Reporter, BBC Panorama

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Madeleine's parents with a CGI photo of their daughter five years ago

One of the suspects questioned by British police about Madeleine McCann's disappearance has said he was shocked to be asked about how she went missing.

Paulo Ribeiro was one of four local suspects who denied any involvement when questioned by British detectives.

"I thought it was incredible," he said.

The men were questioned in connection with Scotland Yard's theory that the three-year-old was taken in a burglary that went wrong but were never charged with any offence.

It is 10 years to the day since Madeleine disappeared from the McCanns' holiday apartment at the Ocean Club complex in the Portuguese resort of Praia Da Luz.

A church service for missing people, including Madeleine, will be held at the Church of Nossa Senhora da Luz in Portugal this evening.

The parish church in Madeleine's home village of Rothley, Leicestershire, will also hold a service to mark the 10th anniversary.

The British investigation into the case was started in 2011 at the request of the then Prime Minister David Cameron. It has cost more than £11m.

The four men, who were questioned in 2014, were made official suspects and are still living in Praia Da Luz.

Mr Ribeiro told BBC Panorama: "I knew of nothing when the police arrived at my door with a piece of paper that had a drawing on it, saying it bore a likeness to me and that someone had said I was involved and that I looked like the person who had kidnapped Maddie.

"I don't know who that person was."

He said he was at home on the night that Madeleine disappeared and that he was not involved in any burglaries.

The Portuguese police clearly believe the men know nothing about what happened.

Media caption,
Paulo Ribeiro, who is no longer a suspect, spoke to the BBC's Richard Bilton

Pedro do Carmo, deputy director of the Policia Judiciaria, told Panorama he had never considered them to be suspects.

"I can only say that we questioned those people on request of the Metropolitan Police and only based on the request of the Metropolitan Police.

"We never questioned those people. We never saw or looked at those people as suspects of the crime."

Last week, Scotland Yard announced there was no evidence to implicate the four men and the case against them had been closed.

The Met say they are pursuing new lines of inquiry and that they have not ruled out the burglary theory.

But many in Portugal are sceptical about the Met's involvement.

Carlos Anjos, the former head of the Policia Judiciaria officers' union, has told Panorama that the British investigation has been a waste of money.

"This burglary theory is absurd. Not even a wallet disappeared, no television disappeared, nothing else disappeared. A child disappeared."

The BBC Panorama programme - Madeleine McCann: Ten Years On - is on BBC1 at 9pm Wednesday and available on iPlayer afterwards.

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