Suspect Murat ‘doesn’t want investigation to end’ until Madeleine McCann is found

By Nicola Boden
Last updated at 10:16 AM on 04th July 2008

For almost as long as Madeleine McCann has been missing, Robert Murat has been an official suspect in her disappearance.

The 34-year-old ex-pat became an ‘arguido’ on May 14, just 11 days after the three-year-old vanished from a holiday apartment near his home in Praia da Luz.

But today, amid reports the investigation was finally coming to an end and he was set to be cleared, he said the only result he actually wants is the girl being found.

‘I don’t want the investigation to end… I want Madeleine McCann found as much as anyone,’ he said in a statement.

Robert Murat

Relief: Robert Murat is set to be cleared as Portuguese police prepare to close their file on Madeleine McCann’s disappearance without ruling on her fate

Mr Murat, the only suspect aside from Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry, has always protested his innocence.

He even helped the police investigation in the early days after she disappeared by offering up his services as a translator.

As it emerged today that his nightmare may be coming to an end, his lawyer was remaining cautious about whether police would clear his name.

Francisco Pagarete stressed it had to be made clear he was not involved, rather than the authorities declaring they were dropping the case because of a lack of evidence.

He said: ‘It depends on the way it’s going to be dropped – if it’s going to be dropped because there’s not enough evidence connecting my client to this case or if it’s going to be dropped because Robert hasn’t got any involvement in this case.

‘Only the second way will make us happy. Of course this is what we want to happen. Robert had nothing to do with this from the beginning and that’s what we want to be written.’

Mr Pagarete added: ‘This is one of two endings for this story. Since the beginning I’ve always said that I was not imagining any other ending for my client than one where the suspicions were dropped.

‘First of all let’s wait and see what’s going to be written in the dispatch from the public prosecutor. After I have seen that I can make other comments.’

Mr Murat himself, was ‘calm’, his lawyer added.

Madeleine McCann

Tragedy: Madeleine, then 3, disappeared during a family holiday to Portugal

Madeleine, then three, disappeared on May 3 as her parents ate at a nearby restaurant with friends. Despite regular checks, she vanished sometime around 10pm.

The investigation quickly focused on Mr Murat, an anglo-Portuguese property consultant, after witnesses claimed they had seen him near the apartment complex.

But he insisted he was at home with his mother, and despite being named an official suspect on May 14, no charges were ever brought.

Police eventually started focusing on the McCanns themselves, and both were also named ‘arguidos’ in September. They too strenuously deny any involvement.

After months of little progress, it is now claimed the judge overseeing the investigation has decided to archive the inquiry without ruling on Madeleine’s fate.

Mr Murat is expected to be cleared of any crime, although he and the McCanns might have to wait until September 15 when the judicial secrecy surrounding the case is due to be lifted for official confirmation.

Under Portuguese law, someone can remain an official suspect without charge for as long as the investigation is continuing.

Steps leading to the McCanns apartment in the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz

Search: The toddler vanished from this apartment in Praia da Luz, which is around 150 yards from Mr Murat’s home, as her parents had dinner nearby

The British ex-pat, who has a daughter Sofia who lives with her mother in Britain, was initially questioned by police after a journalist tipped off the police.

He had become known to reporters after helped officers with translation work during the initial search to find Madeleine.

His house around 150 yards from the apartment where the toddler had been sleeping, which he shares with his mother, was searched.

Forensic tests were also carried out on his car and his friends and associates questioned.

For five months, Mr Murat remained the only official suspect in the case but in September the investigation took an astonishing twist when the McCanns became arguidos.

As police focused their efforts on the couple, he slipped from the public eye and there were signs police no longer considered him a serious suspect.

In March, officers returned items of clothing and computers seized from his home on May 19.

And in April, he was granted permission to return to the UK for the first time to visit his daughter.

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