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Parents of Missing Girl Return to Britain From Portugal as Suspects


The parents of missing Madeleine McCann, 3, have returned to Britain but as suspects in her disappearance. Madeleine was last seen in May while on a family vacation in Portugal. Her disappearance has sparked huge international media attention. Kate and Gerry McCann were allowed to fly back to Britain but they may be called back at anytime for further questioning and court action. For VOA, Tom Rivers reports from London.

Four months after she vanished from a vacation villa in Portugal, the parents of Madeleine McCann have flown back to England despite being formally named as suspects in her disappearance.

At the end of last week, Gerry and Kate McCann were grilled about new forensic evidence the authorities think links them to the case.

Despite saying they intended to stay in Portugal to clear their names, the McCanns flew back to Britain from Faro airport on Sunday with their two youngest children. Upon arrival at East Midlands Airport, Gerry McCann said they returned now for the sake of those children.

"We want the twins, as much as is reasonably possible, to live an ordinary life in their home country and [we] want to consider the events of the last few days that have been so deeply disturbing," he said.

What the McCanns find distressing is being considered suspects in Madeleine's disappearance by the Portuguese police.

The line of investigation changed dramatically last week after authorities received forensic test results from Portuguese and British investigators from various sites including the hotel apartment and a rental car driven by the McCanns.

At this stage, no formal charges have been filed against them but some restrictions apply as Gerry McCann alluded to on the airport Tarmac.

"Our return is with the full agreement of the Portuguese authorities and police. Portuguese law prohibits us from commenting further on the police investigation," added McCann.

Then, Madeleine's father again underlined to the assembled press that neither he nor his wife had done anything wrong.

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

Pictures of missing Madeleine have been posted across Europe in public places such as shop windows. The McCanns who courted the media early on in their daughter's disappearance and who now seem hounded by them, met, among others, Pope Benedict and celebrities such as soccer star David Beckham and author J.K. Rowling who came forward urging people to help find the missing girl.

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