LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal's Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that missing British girl Madeleine McCann's parents can't sue for libel a former Portuguese detective who published a book alleging they were involved in their daughter's disappearance.
A court official told The Associated Press that Portugal's highest court ruled the allegations are protected by freedom of expression laws. Also, the judges decided his claims weren't abusive and "were within acceptable limits in an open and democratic society."
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision hadn't yet been published.
A Lisbon court in 2015 ordered Goncalo Amaral to pay Kate and Gerry McCann 500,000 euros ($540,000) in compensation. The McCanns had sought 1.2 million euros. An appeals court last year overturned that conviction, but the McCann's lawyers turned to Portugal's top court.
Madeleine disappeared from a vacation home in Portugal's Algarve region in May 2007, days before her 4th birthday.
Amaral had argued in his defense that the claims in his 2008 book "The Truth of the Lie" stemmed from the police investigation. He also noted that Portuguese media had already reported the possibility that the parents might have played a role in Madeleine's disappearance.
Portuguese police closed the investigation after detecting no evidence of a crime, but British police are still looking into it.
Madeleine's disappearance sparked global interest as pictures of her and her grieving parents were published around the world.