Who Is Robert Murat? New Details About The Man First Believed To Be A Suspect In Madeleine McCann's Disappearance

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Who Is Robert Murat? New Details About The Man First Believed To Be A Suspect In Madeleine McCann's Disappearance

The 2007 disappearance of Madeleine McCann shocked the world and puzzled investigators as they still have yet to figure out what happened to the British toddler.

The 3-year-old was in Portugal on holiday with her family, when her parents claim she was snatched from her bedroom while she was asleep. The family was dining at a restaurant nearby, periodically checking on the children when her mother, Kate McCann, noticed her daughter was gone.

There have been a lot of theories and conspiracies that try to answer what happened to little Maddie McCann, but so far none have stuck. A new Netflix docu-series explores some of these theories as well as all the people who were affected by the way the Portuguese police initially handle the investigation — including Robert Murat. 

So who is Robert Murat and what does he have to do with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann? Here's everything we know.

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1. He was assisting the police. 

Murat, a 33-year-old Portuguese real estate consultant who lived with his mother within close proximity to where the toddler was taken, offered to act an interpreter for the police. He was fluent in English and Portuguese and would help translate witness statements.

The documentary showed how he felt for the McCanns — especially because he had a daughter who was the same age. 

2. People started to suspect him.

Some people found him strange and adding in his helpful next and how close he lived to the crime scene, the police started to look into him, too.

He was officially named an "arguido" or 'suspect' 12 days after the toddler vanished, thanks to a reporter who told officers that Murat had been "notably curious" about Madeleine's case. 

And of course, it didn't help that a witness claimed she saw a man walking on the street in the direction of Murat's home with a sleeping child wearing pajamas. Murat maintained that he was home with his mother a the time of the disappearance, but police still suspected that he was involved. 

3. Police raided his home.

Murat's claims of innocence were not enough to keep the police from searching his home. On May 15, they used sniffer dogs around his property and the surrounding properties while also looking for forensic evidence. 

Fortunately for Murat, there was none. He described in the documentary an interrogation he had with police who he felt were trying to get him to confess.

"I actually felt I was being set up. I felt like they would do anything and everything to make it me," he said.

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4. The town turned against him.

Even though he was never arrested for the crime — and there was a severe lack of evidence tying him to anything — that didn't stop the town from turning against him. One of his associate's even had his car set ablaze and spray painted with the word "speak" in Portuguese. 

Murat faced national scrutiny too and said he often felt like everyone — the townspeople, the police, and the media — were chasing him. He said it was "“like a fox being pursued by a pack of hounds … [caught] between a Kafka novel and the Will Smith movie Enemy of the State.” 

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5. He received £600,000 in damages.

In 2008, Murat's status was finally lifted as a suspect, and he went on to sue 11 British newspapers for not only linking him to Madeleine's disappearance but for other lies, like implying that he was involved in a pedophile ring. He is believed to have been "libeled in more than 100 articles in the British tabloid press."

In 2008, he received over £600,000 in damages and the newspapers were forced to apologize to him. His partner, Michaela Walczuch, and his business associate, Sergey Malinka, also received compensation for articles that suggested they were also involved in the pedophile ring.

“Today’s statement of full apology in open court means I can emerge from this action vindicated and with the recognition and acknowledgment that what was said against me was wholly untrue," he said at the time.

Murat and his wife still live in Portugal. He runs a computer shop.

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Emily Blackwood is a writer and editor living in California. She covers all things news, pop culture, and true crime.