Gerry McCann: No evidence to suggest Madeleine is dead

• Kate and Gerry McCann in court for second day of hearing
• Portuguese police claim parents faked child's abduction

Gerry McCann lashed out at Portuguese police today, as a former senior detective dismissed the McCanns' challenge to claims that Madeleine was dead as "pathetic".

In a heated exchange with reporters outside the court in Lisbon, Gerry McCann insisted there was "absolutely no evidence" to support the claim that his daughter was dead, before the court heard more challenges to the McCanns' account of events.

As Madeleine's parents returned for a second day of the libel trial over claims about their daughter's disappearance, Gerry McCann appeared rattled as he argued with Portuguese journalists about the claims of officials involved in the investigation. "There is absolutely no evidence that Madeleine is dead and there is absolutely no evidence that we were involved in her disappearance," he said.

This morning the court heard fresh evidence questioning the disappearance of Madeleine. Former senior police officer and criminologist Francisco Moita Flores told the hearing that the McCanns' legal challenge to permanently ban a book by Gonçalo Amaral, the officer who initially led the Madeleine inquiry for Portugal's CID, the polícia judiciária (PJ), was "pathetic".

He dismissed the couple's claim that Madeleine was abducted from the apartment they were staying in at the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz, telling the court it would be impossible to pass a child through the flat's window. Giving evidence via videolink, Flores defended the Portuguese investigation into the case, praising Amaral as a "good professional".

The McCanns' lawyer, Isabel Duarte, argued the police files reached no conclusion about the window and said there were other ways Madeleine could have been taken from the apartment.

Flores' evidence followed that of a series of senior officers who told the hearing yesterday that Madeleine had died in her family's holiday flat in May 2007 and that her parents faked her abduction.

The McCanns are challenging claims made in Amaral's book, Maddie: The Truth of the Lie that Madeleine was dead.

Amaral, who was taken off the case in October 2007 after criticising British police, is trying to overturn an injunction granted to the McCanns in September last year banning further sale or publication of the book.

At the end of the second day of the trial Gerry McCann defended taking legal action, saying the book had "damaged" the search for Madeleine.

"I'd like to remind everyone that it's the book that's on trial and not Kate and I," he said. "Over the last two days you've heard a lot about Mr Amaral's thesis that Madeleine is dead. There is absolutely no evidence to support that thesis. A thesis without evidence is meaningless."

He added: "There is a little girl missing who still needs to be found and we will keep going until Madeleine is found."

The McCanns, both 41, from Rothley, Leicestershire, say their main motive for fighting the appeal against the book ban is the fear that people will stop looking for Madeleine if they think she is dead. Gerry McCann said: "This is a legal process that we're going through to protect our daughter and our family." When asked whether it was worth the emotional cost for the couple to attend the court case, he added: "Do you have children? Anyone who has children would go through the same process."

Gerry McCann returned to Britain this afternoon because of work commitments, but Kate McCann will stay in Portugal for the rest of the hearing.

The trial is expected to last three days, but the judge could order further hearings before making her ruling.

The trial continues.

John Stevens

The GuardianTramp

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