by Henrique Machado
The images from North American satellites are the hope that is left to find out what happened on the night of the 3rd of May 2007, in Praia da Luz, Lagos. They have the capacity for it, enough resolution to reveal who took Maddie live or dead out of that apartment – and the Judiciária knows it. The investigation equated asking for international cooperation at that level, Correio da Manhã has established, but the military and secret character of the use of that technology rendered the request inviable. Now, it’s the British government who will formally request the images from the United States.
The formal request for cooperation is to be submitted to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency by Alan Johnson, the British Home Secretary. This information is advanced by the ‘Sunday Express’, which cites the reaction from a spokesperson for the North American Agency. “NGA does not provide imagery to private citizens or private companies. For reasons of national security we do not discuss specifics about what images we have or our capabilities.” But the relationship between both countries may make the difference – and the newspaper advances that England is going to do everything that it can, on the diplomatic field.
Meanwhile, Correio da Manhã knows that this matter was discussed several times at the highest levels within the PJ’s investigation, in Portimão. The satellites have predefined routes, they receive directives depending on the interest zones – but the Portuguese investigators knew that the United States have military interests in the North of Africa, and the Algarve is a potential passage area.
The PJ even went as far as to investigate the possibility of European satellites, which are public, having relevant information – but only the North Americans will have the capacity of going back to the night of the crime, and to clearly reveal who walked around in Praia da Luz, carrying the four year old child. Nonetheless, the information request never moved forward: it was understood that the United States would never place secret information and military interests at stake, to solve the Maddie case.
Doubts about the McCann couple
The practical use of the satellite images in the Maddie case would be in the sense of obtaining pictures that reveal who took the child out of the apartment at the Ocean Club on the night of the 3rd of May 2007, and where she was taken. Dead or alive. The PJ considered trying to use this means at different stages of the investigation – namely at the end, when it was left without evidence. Satellite images could also clear the doubts about the McCann couple.
Direct Speech: General Loureiro dos Santos, former CEME
“I believe that the USA will help”
Correio da Manhã – Is it possible that the United States captured images of Praia da Luz on the 3rd of May 2007?
- Most of the satellites are geostationary, they are fixed from the Earth’s point of view. They act permanently over military or economical interest areas, for example. In terms of that area of the Algarve, it’s possible, but only the USA may answer that.
- Are the images recorded, and do they have enough quality to identify a person?
- They are, depending on the interest that the area has at that time of the year. I presume that the images are of great quality.
- Do you believe that the USA accept to cooperate in the investigation?
- I do, as long as making those images available, assuming the surveillance of a certain area, does not compromise the USA’s strategic interests.
Legal discussion | If there are satellite images, their use would imply a legal discussion – this would be an unedited means of evidence in Portugal. They would have to be validated by an instruction judge.
Brown and Obama | The ‘Sunday Express’ advances that Gordon Brown’s commitment may lead him to personally intercede with Obama.
Most evolved country | The USA are the world’s most evolved country, in terms of satellites.
source: Correio da Manhã, 19.10.2009 (paper edition)