The McCanns fear that their daughter Madeleine’s kidnapper may "strike again" and believe he or she will have been "laughing" at claims that they hid their daughter’s body.
Gerry and Kate McCann spoke to reporters after delivering personal statements at Lisbon’s Palace of Justice in the libel case brought by them against Goncalo Amaral over claims he made in a book about their role in the disappearance of their daughter from the family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in the Algarve in 2007.
Mr McCann said that whoever was involved must have been laughing during these last six years at what Mr Amaral has claimed — that there was no abduction and there is no predator out there.
“There is — he or she or they may strike again,” he said. “There’s an unsolved serious crime and there’s a series of other crimes against children which have come to light who have been on holiday so at the very least these people need to be brought to justice.
“We don’t know if Madeleine is alive or dead but there is no evidence that she is dead and she is a missing child and she is completely innocent.”
The couple earlier told the court that there was no doubt that Mr Amaral’s claims had done “severe damage” to their struggle to find Madeleine.
Answering questions from judge Maria Emilia Castro during the hearing, Mrs McCann said that her young son Seán had asked her about the allegations that she was involved in her daughter’s disappearance.
She told the court Seán heard about Mr Amaral’s allegations on the radio while travelling on the school bus. “Seán asked me in October ‘Mr Amaral said you hid Madeleine’. I just said that he said a lot of silly things,” she said.
Seán and his twin sister Amelie were aged two when Madeleine, who was nearly four, went missing.
Mrs McCann said the couple make efforts to keep information about the abduction away from their children.
“We try and anticipate if there is going to be any media coverage so they don’t get any shocks and are prepared and confident to handle it,” she told the court. “It is very distressing to us as adults so for a child it would be very, very distressing.” She also told the court that the children were now old enough to use computers at school and home and had to be supervised.
The couple had travelled to Lisbon over Mr Amaral’s book The Truth Of The Lie.
The McCanns are suing for libel over claims made in Mr Amaral’s 2008 book, including suggestions that they hid Madeleine’s body after she died in an accident and faked an abduction.
Mr Amaral — who co-ordinated the original investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance — alleged that she had died in the family’s holiday apartment in the Algarve, and that Kate and her husband Gerry had simulated her abduction and hidden her body. His book was a bestseller in Portugal.
“We have had very many sleepless nights over the publication of this book and certainly when we first heard about these things, it caused distress, anxiety and a lack of appetite,” said Mr McCann.
The McCanns are suing Mr Amaral, his publisher and a company that produced a documentary based on his book.
The 45-year-old said the documentary was “even worse than the book”.
“It starts off by stating right at the beginning that Madeleine is dead, that there was no abduction and essentially claims that me and my wife and our friends are liars.
“It says that we would be so cold and ruthless as to hide our daughter’s body rather than try and help her, should something have happened.
“And of course, it has no factual basis or supporting evidence and any evidence that is not in agreement with his thesis is ignored.”
The McCanns say the allegations damaged the hunt for their daughter. The couple could gain around £1m (€1.25m) in damages if a judgment — not expected in the trial until later this year — goes there way.
After the hearing, Mr McCann told reporters they had brought the case to court to “challenge assertions that have gone more or less unchallenged”.
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