The European Court of Human Rights ruled against the parents of missing British child Madeleine McCann on Tuesday, in a 14-year-long dispute about whether the parents were libeled against.
Madeleine McCann disappeared from her bedroom in the apartment at the Portuguese holiday resort of Praia da Luz in May 2007 when she was 3 years old. Her parents were reportedly eating at a nearby restaurant with friends at the time.
Gerry and Kate McCann were questioned about their possible involvement in the disappearance in September 2007, but the investigation was dropped because of a lack of evidence. Authorities then cleared the McCanns from any involvement.
The parents had sued Portuguese policeman Goncalo Amaral for suggesting that the pair were involved in Madeleine’s disappearance in his 2008 book “Truth of the Lie”.
A Portuguese court had initially ruled in the parents’ favor in 2015 and ordered Amaral to pay damages. But Portugal’s Supreme Court of Justice reversed the ruling two years later.
That decision prompted the McCanns to sue the state of Portugal through the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), arguing that they did not receive a fair hearing and that their right to privacy was infringed upon.
But the ECHR ruled on Tuesday that the Portuguese judiciary gave the parents a fair trial, and concluded that their arguments about presumption of innocence were ill-founded.
“Even assuming that the applicants’ reputation had been damaged, this was not on account of the argument put forward by the book’s author but rather as a result of the suspicions expressed against them”, the ECHR ruled.
“[The Supreme Court of Justice] had not made comments implying any guilt on the part of the applicants or even suggesting suspicions against them with regard to the circumstances in which their daughter had disappeared,” the ruling continued. “The applicants’ complaint concerning their right to be presumed innocent was thus manifestly ill-founded.”
It is unknown if Gerry and Kate McCann will appeal the newest decision.
Reuters contributed to this report.