Libel case against Madeleine detective due to start

The libel trial of a Portuguese policeman who published a book including claims missing Madeleine McCann was dead is set to start today.

Kate and Gerry McCann have already flown to Lisbon for the opening of Goncalo Amaral’s libel trial in the capital.

Madeleine was nearly four when she went missing from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007 while her parents dined with friends nearby.

Despite a massive police investigation and publicity worldwide, she has not been found.

Mr Amaral was involved in the initial investigation but was later taken off the case.

In his first book, 'The Truth Of The Lie', he claimed Madeleine was dead and questioned the McCanns’ account that she was taken while they were eating with friends.

In September, after a year-long legal campaign to prevent the publication of the book and a subsequent DVD, a Portuguese judge granted an injunction banning its further sale or publication.

It also banned Mr Amaral from repeating his claims about Madeleine or her parents.

The couple have previously said any money awarded in damages by the courts would be ploughed straight back in to paying for private investigators to probe their daughter’s disappearance.

The start of today’s trial coincides with the launch of Mr Amaral’s second book, 'A Mordaca Inglesa' ('The English Gag').

The McCanns’ spokesman Clarence Mitchell yesterday described the policeman’s decision to launch the book on the same day as the trial opening as “regrettable”.

He said: “Most people would expect him to concentrate on the trial rather than launching any new book and the court will take its own view of his activities.”

Mr Mitchell said the McCanns plan to attend the opening of the trial, but were expected to return to the UK “fairly swiftly”.

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