by: Maria Plácido, with Carla Bernardino
Never before had a child been so avidly searched for. Madeleine McCann disappeared from apartment 5A at the Ocean Club, in Praia da Luz, Lagos, on the night of the 3rd of May 2007, and those who committed to recover her, on the days that followed the tragedy, now point the finger at the parents, who don’t move and don’t convince anyone, anymore. For the people, Maddie is dead and buried… by the hands of her parents. And this crime without punishment generates a revolt that feeds off the theory of former investigator Gonçalo Amaral.
On the eve of the second anniversary of the disappearance of Gerry and Kate McCann’s eldest daughter, the documentary ‘Maddie – The Truth of the Lie’, which is based on the book by the former coordinator of the searches, is another log for the fire of indignation that burns in Praia da Luz. The documentary, which was broadcast by TVI, was seen by over 2.2 million people. Now, TV 7 Dias visited the scene of the crime and felt the pulsing of revolt that Gonçalo Amaral calls “an uncomfortable feeling of impunity”.
New data to reopen the process
The Portuguese police has closed the case, but neither the people nor the former investigator lower their guard. After the initial silence, the population of Aldeia da Luz starts to talk about the issue without barriers, and the former case coordinator lifts new clues that “will force the reopening of the process”, he announces.
Gonçalo Amaral offers a glimpse of what is coming… “There are things that we need to clarify. It’s important to understand the role of Mr David Payne in this story. He was on holidays with Maddie’s family when the little girl disappeared, and right on the 16th of May, an English doctor told the British authorities that on another occasion, when she and her husband were on the beachside with the McCanns and their friends, that gentleman had made obscene gestures, of a sexual nature, about the girl… That doctor also told that David liked to bathe the little girls… Now, if he was part of the group of adults that went to check on Maddie and her siblings… he was one of the last persons to see her alive. It would be important to find out how much time he spent with the little girl doing what, but information about this lady’s statements only arrived in Portugal in October, at a time when I was not even on the case anymore. This is one of the various important things that were ignored. Someone pretended he didn’t know about this…”
TV 7 Dias went to the crime scene and reveals other important details about the scenario where it all happened. We walked the distance that separates the restaurant where the McCanns were eating and the bedroom where the children were sleeping. And despite having been forbidden from capturing images that document the location, we must stress that from the table where Kate and Gerry ate and drank, it is impossible to see the window to the children’s bedroom.
More: the Tapas Bar restaurant is located at the back side of the apartment and the window, as well as the main door, are located at the front of the building. In order to walk from the table to the bedroom, one needs to walk out of the Ocean Club’s inner patio, walk down a few steps, walk through reception, walk around the apartment block, enter a corridor… a walk that takes six to seven minutes. And all of the lamps on the McCanns’ apartment front had been broken for two days, which means that there was complete darkness. From the place where Maddie’s parents dined, all that one can see is half the living room window, and to get there, one needs to cross the pool area, and then walk along a row of bushes (approximately 70 metres long). Still, anyone who would be looking in, couldn’t see Maddie or her twin siblings, Sean and Amelie, on the opposite end of the house.
According to what TV 7 Dias could establish during this visit to the resort, the scheme of checking the children’s bedrooms hides other curiosities. For example: a person who has followed the case since the first few minutes tells that a list with schedules and names of everyone who told the authorities they had peeked into the children’s bedroom was found… “It’s strange that they wrote that. It looks like a cheat sheet from a person who had been staging a theory…”, the same source says.
Wine and seafood on the following day
In Praia da Luz, opinions about what happened to little Maddie that night are divided, but the vast majority believes that she died, and holds the parents responsible. Almost nobody rises to defend the McCanns. For Maria Bandeirinha, the owner of a rent a car business, the parents’ attitude is incriminating. “Kate passed by my door, laughing her head off, with a friend, days after her daughter disappeared. What mother has a child in an unknown location and feels like laughing? Looking back, I don’t even know how she managed to convince the people that her daughter had been stolen from her… Just compare her with Rui Pedro’s mother. I’m not going any further, because I’m a mother myself and I cannot imagine life for one minute, if I lost my daughter.”
Maria Bandeirinha says that she had photos of the little girl on her shop window, but she tore everything off when she stopped believing the McCanns’ innocence. “The other shop owners did the same. I’m increasingly on the side of Gonçalo Amaral. He knows the truth, and if he says that the little girl is dead, then she is. Kate and Gerry know it as well. Nobody believes this circus anymore.”
From a source close to the Ocean Club, new reports about the day after Madeleine McCann’s disappearance emerge. “After that tragedy, everything that they needed they received for free. The hotel staff did everything they could to offer them some comfort, in the middle of their supposed pain.” And he continues: “When I saw them, the next day, I couldn’t believe it! They had ordered food and drink… they had even ordered wine and seafood! Who is that hungry, after losing a child? Who can think of jogging every morning, like Kate did, or playing tennis with his friends, like Gerry did? Even the family that came down to meet them didn’t forget their bathing suits…” TV 7 Dias tried to confirm these reports with the Ocean Club’s management, but the law of silence reigns at the resort.
For Gonçalo Amaral, there will be no peace or quiet until the case is not solved. If there is a crime… there are perpetrators. The former investigator’s restlessness is also the revolt of Luz’s people. The only difference is that the people have made their judgment… Most of the residents want to see Kate and Gerry pay for their daughter’s death.
“It’s only natural for people to feel revolt. Everyone wants and end for this story. That is ultimately the only reason that led so many people to watch the documentary that is based on my book. Impunity has never pleased the people”, Gonçalo recognises.
Paul, the owner of one of the restaurants that are located by the bay of Praia da Luz, is one of the few that still believe in the possibility that Maddie is alive. “This story has been badly told, directed and investigated. For me, the McCanns are guilty, but not over their daughter’s death. They are guilty over the little girl’s abduction, because they offered the criminals the possibility of carrying it out… Children can’t be left alone at home! For me, she is alive, she was abducted and sold.”
But almost everyone thinks differently. The same person who accompanied the McCanns, two years ago, now concludes: “I believe that they are guilty. I was with them and I saw the theatre that they put on… They were always looking good fine and only when journalists approached, they would hang their heads low. At the beginning, people believed them, they suffered with their loss and felt solidarity, but presently, if they could, they would take justice into their own hands. Only a while ago, when Gerry came here, he was jeered at on the street and if people could, they would have beaten him up.” Maria Bandeirinha adds: “Sometimes, popular justice would be a good thing. It would be swifter and easier. Nobody believe a word they say anymore. They still have some support in church, but the priests also know very well what happened that night.”
The McCanns’ documentary
Gonçalo Amaral’s documentary is still widely present, but a reply is on the way. In early April, Maddie’s father returned to the Ocean Club with Channel 4’s cameras, for a detailed reconstruction of his version of events on the night of May 3, 2007. “He didn’t stay at the Ocean Club, I don’t know where he slept, and he could hardly set foot on the street, because people wanted to give him a beating… Then he had some ridiculous letters distributed, which were all over the place, shredded, on the next day”, another resident of Luz told us, showing us a sample of the letter. Concerning the documentary, “it is most likely to be a pack of lies”. Gonçalo Amaral agrees: “I don’t care about the documentary. It’s all lies!”
The programme will be broadcast on the 7th of May in the United Kingdom, and Portuguese stations fight to acquire it. “At the moment, the way that negotiations are, TVI is up front to get it”, a source tells us. But the British couple’s spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, asserts TV 7 Dias: “The deal is about to be closed and we think that SIC will broadcast the documentary that was recorded by Gerry. He is not at all happy about TVI broadcasting Gonçalo Amaral’s documentary, which is full of errors and mistakes, and therefore he isn’t interested in the documentary, which was recorded in Portugal, being broadcast by TVI”, states the former aide to the British prime minister, Gordon Brown.
What is certain is that on the brink of the second anniversary of Maddie’s disappearance, the waters are agitated with two explosive documentaries, Gerry’s return to the crime scene and the news about Kate’s physical and emotional frailty. The end of this case still seems far away.
'The Thruth of The Lie' in more than 15 countries
Marta Vaz de Sousa, the head of Valentim de Carvalho Multimédia, took the documentary ‘Maddie – The Truth of the Lie’, that TVI broadcast, to MIP, in Cannes, and is preparing its sales. “There are more than 15 countries interested in it, business deals that could be closed within a week.” But she does not comment on whether it will reach the United Kingdom. Clarence Mitchell, on the other hand, reacts and leaves a warning. “I doubt that anyone around here is interested in watching it and the station that broadcasts it will be sued by our lawyers!”
source: TV 7 Dias, 29.04.2009 , paper edition