POLICE have just 22 months to nail the prime suspect in the abduction of Madeleine McCann, according to her family’s lawyer.
Rogerio Alves says the clock is ticking on the 13-year mystery due to a 15-year time limit on prosecutions in Portugal.
He tells ITV: “We have a 15 years time barrier, even to manslaughter, to homicide, to certain sexual offences — and even to the most serious kind of kidnapping.
“So we are still on time. But time is getting short now.”
Paedophile Christian B, 43, named as the prime suspect in the May 2007 abduction, is in jail in Germany for drug offences and the rape of a US woman in Portugal in 2005.
But his lawyers are trying to have the rape conviction quashed on a legal technicality.
If they win Christian B could be freed on parole and it is feared he would then disappear.
Mr Alves reveals the statute of limitations deadline in McCann: The Hunt for the Prime Suspect, which is broadcast at 9pm on Thursday.
The documentary highlights errors made by police after Madeleine, three, was snatched from an apartment in the Praia da Luz resort.
Her parents Kate and Gerry were out at a nearby tapas restaurant.
The show claims some of those mistakes prevented Christian B from being identified as a suspect much earlier.
Graham Hill, one of the detectives sent from Britain to Portugal at the time of the abduction, suggests police procedures have not changed much since.
He said: “If a child went missing on a beach this summer, what would be done differently?
“I’m not so sure that much, or anything, different would be done. I’m not so sure we’ve learned the lessons.”
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