3 January 2011
Looking back, looking forward and not looking at all
"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."
- George Orwell
This is the time of year around which we tend to look back on the year that went by, and try to predict what may happen during the New Year that lies ahead.
For those who still follow the case of the mysterious disappearance of Madeleine McCann, this last year started in a rather negative way: the injunction that had been declared by the Civil Court of Lisbon against Gonçalo Amaral’s book, preventing it from being sold, published or even discussed, was upheld by that same court in mid-February.
Nonetheless, as everything in life has a positive side to it (it’s just that sometimes it’s dreadfully hard to find it…), the court hearings that took place in January revealed a lot more about the Portuguese police investigation than the McCanns probably wanted. And more than simply opening a bit of the investigation to the public, the fact that those revelations were made in court allowed the British press to do something that they hadn’t done in this case for a very long time: to report in an accurate, unbiased manner. Well, some of the British press, anyway.
Most of those who had attended the court hearings came away with the impression that Gonçalo Amaral’s case had been proved beyond any doubt; but a few who had been able to see beyond the objectivity of facts and arguments, had noticed small signs in court of what would become public a month later: the judge upheld the injunction and the book ban remained firmly in place.
More than half a year would have to pass until the Appeals Court of Lisbon decided upon the matter – and issued a ruling that not merely overturned the injunction, but made a point of mentioning several aspects of the wider ranging case. In the end, no matter how hard some may try to deny it, that text was not only critical of the way in which the Civil Court judge had decided, but it also validated Mr Amaral’s theory as an alternative to the Prosecutors’ shelving decision: an alternative that was solidly based on his many years of experience as a policeman.
In the meantime, the McCann couple had come away from the Courts in Lisbon holding a thick dossier that they declared to be chock full of very significant leads that the Portuguese Police had chosen to ignore. A wide-eyed, visibly shocked Mrs Duarte spoke to the cameras outside the court, and the rest of humanity could hardly breathe, as we waited for the McCanns’ team of experienced investigators to act on those extraordinary leads, and to recover Madeleine from a secret lair in a remote village somewhere in the outskirts of Praia da Luz.
The year came to an end, and still we wait.
Meanwhile, the McCanns made on and off headlines, with a petition for example, whose actual utility and effectiveness we also wait to comprehend. So far, it seems to have produced as much as Mrs Duarte’s favourite dossier: nothing.
But enough of looking back. The New Year will bring The Book – not a book about Madeleine, I'm afraid, but about her parents’ struggle to find her. A book that will finally allow the McCann couple to tell us the truth about their daughter’s disappearance, begging the question ‘What is it that they have been telling us for over three years, then?’.
The New Year will also inevitably bring its fair share of the usual non-news: it’s already started with the incredibly relevant announcement that The Book will not be launched on the 4th anniversary of the Tapas Group’s arrival in the Algarve, but rather on the 4th anniversary of the day that the couple displayed their award-winning smiles at the Church in Praia da Luz.
Whether or not 2011 will bring us new ‘historical notes’ by WikiLeaks, or another series of court proceedings, or any new sightings or any of the old scapegoats, is something that we will have to wait to see. I don’t know what the future holds, any more than anyone else, except for one thing: We will continue to try to contribute to the global flow of information about this case. We will continue to try to uncover the Truth about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. We will continue to give our best to help for Justice to be served, some day, somewhere, whomever it may hurt. What we will never allow ourselves to do, is not to look at all.
From the bottom of my heart: Have a Great Year!