Detective leading McCann case removed

Tuesday 02 October 2007 19.52
Madeleine McCann - Missing since 3 May
Madeleine McCann - Missing since 3 May

The head of Portugal's judicial police has removed the detective who had been leading the investigation into missing British girl Madeleine McCann.

Goncalo Amaral was taken off the case after accusing the British police of being influenced by the girl's parents over what leads they decide to follow up.

Detective Amaral loses his current post with the judicial police but will not be dismissed from the force. No replacement has been named so far.

Mr Amaral was earlier today quoted in a Portuguese newspaper as saying British police had forgotten that Gerry and Kate McCann remain suspects in their daughter's disappearance.

He said that British police have been investigating leads created and cultivated by the McCanns, forgetting that the couple are suspects in the death of  their daughter.

He said British police have been working solely on what the McCanns want and on what suits them.

Portuguese police have declared Kate and Gerry McCann as  suspects in the disappearance of their daughter, who vanished from her bedroom in a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, southern Portugal on 3 May.

Mr and Mrs McCann strongly deny any role in her disappearance and have led an international campaign to raise awareness of the case.

The investigation into Madeleine's disappearance did initially focus on the possibility that the girl was kidnapped.

But earlier this month Portuguese police named Kate and Gerry McCann as suspects after receiving the results of forensic tests carried out at a laboratory in England on items found in the holiday apartment and a car the couple rented.

The British press has remained largely supportive of the couple  and very critical of the Portuguese police investigation, with Mr Amaral a favourite target.

Many Portuguese newspapers meanwhile have been full of stories sourced to anonymous police offices that accuse the couple of accidentally killing their daughter and trying to cover up the cause of her death.