by Felícia Cabrita and Margarida Davim
The Oporto Prosecutor has doubts about the legality of the team that was created by the PJ. He has informed [Attorney General] Pinto Monteiro about the case.
SOL was able to find out that the district attorney general of Oporto, Alberto Pinto Nogueira, has formally questioned the North Directory of the PJ, in order to find out for what reason officers from Oporto were drafted to investigate a crime that happened in the Algarve. The magistrate reminded the PJ of the fact that the competence to open or to reopen an investigation lies with the Public Ministry and not with the Judiciary Police.
Attorney General did not know about team
Pinto Nogueira also wanted to know who authorized an investigation that mostly resembles an inquiry into what has been done by the team that initially dealt with the disappearance of the little English girl. This is due to the fact that there is no legal framework whatsoever for the creation of this team.
Therefore, all of the magistrate’s doubts – he only found out about the existence of this team through the media – have been sent to the Republic’s Attorney General (AG), Pinto Monteiro.
The AG’s office has said that he didn’t know about this new PJ team either and that he shares the doubts that have been raised by Pinto Nogueira, asking to be kept informed about the Judiciary Police’s replies.
After having been confronted with a communication from Pinto Nogueira, João Batista Romão, the head of the PJ’s North Directory, forwarded the district attorney general of Oporto’s questions to the Judiciary Police’s National Directory. Pedro do Carmo, the joint national director, then explained to Pinto Nogueira that this team is not performing new investigations into the case.
As far as SOL was able to find out, Pinto Nogueira, after receiving clarification from the PJ, made it clear that all responsibility, including financial responsibility, that would be originated by this new team would be taken into account by the district attorney’s office.
Nonetheless, this is an issue that Pedro do Carmo equally devalues: “These are PJ officers, the Judiciary Police pays their salary, obviously”. Nevertheless, the joint national director does not explain if this team is exclusively working on the Maddie case, if there is a deadline for this work or even how many officers it is composed of. “These are operational issues that can only be defined by their coordinator, Helena Monteiro”, he says.
Pedro do Carmo further assured SOL that the new team is not evaluating the information that has been collected by the Scotland Yard – where a team of 37 policemen collects and analyses tip-offs concerning the whereabouts of Madeleine McCann, through an initiative of the English prime minster, David Cameron.
Pedro do Carmo stresses that “what is being done is the re-analysis of what was investigated by the PJ at that time”. It remains unclear whether or not the analyzed material includes the 195 new leads that the Scotland Yard says it has about the case: “Only the English Police can speak about that. These are two independent teams at work, although there is permanent communication”.
Different goal in the United Kingdom
Andy Redwood, the inspector who leads the English team, has made it very clear that “reopening the investigation is the only way to find out what happened to Madeleine and to close the case”. Last week, the Scotland Yard announced these 195 new leads and publicised a portrait of how Maddie might look today, five years after she disappeared in Praia da Luz.
Nevertheless, nobody has explained what this profusion of leads is composed of. The McCann couple’s spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, says that these pieces of information result from an analysis of approximately 1200 pages of information and that “all of the material has been sent to the Portuguese authorities that have allegedly only analysed approximately one quarter of what they received.
Rogério Alves, the McCanns’ lawyer in Portugal, says he also does not know the contents of these investigative possibilities. “One can only speak about the relevance of each one, with deep knowledge of them”, he argues, adding that he is still waiting to receive all of this material. With caution, the jurist recalls that “one can only ask for the reopening of the process if there is a very concrete piece of evidence”.
Deposition by French couple is one of the leads
SOL was able to find out that one piece of information that was sent by the English police to the PJ is one more deposition by a French couple on holiday in Nerja (Spain), who reported that they “spoke to a man on the street who had indicated that Madeleine was being kept nearby by an adoptive mother”.
Even with vague leads, Maddie’s parents are determined not to let the story die. This Wednesday, Kate and Gerry held a press conference in London, which was attended by 50 journalists from all over the world. The couple used the opportunity to publicise what they believe to be their daughter’s new image – who will be eight years old if she is still alive.
“There is a real possibility that Madeleine can still be found alive”, Kate McCann stated in an interview to Lusa [news agency].
Kate launches new book
Madeleine’s Fund: Leaving No Stone Unturned was incorporated on May 15, 2007] to finance the search for Maddie.
According to a report from D&B – a company that performs financial analysis -, Madeleine’s Fund, Leaving No Stone Unturned, presently only has a net capital of 125 thousand pounds. The fund once owned over one million, but the money that comes in is less, as each year goes by, and in 2011 general expenses reached almost 27 thousand pounds.
Mitchell ascertains that “the donations from private people are less and less” and that nowadays the fund lives from the money that the couple and their friends received as compensation from libel suits that were filed against newspapers. That value is increased by the author’s rights from the book that was written by Kate McCann, which Maddie’s parents’ spokesman asserts “has sold quite well”.
In order to keep money flowing into the fund’s coffers, Kate will launch a new version of the book on Thursday – this time, as a paperback – with “one more chapter, in order to update the information”.
Five years after Maddie disappeared in the Algarve, Clarence Mitchell, number 10 Downing Street’s former communications advisor and a former BBC journalist, is still working for the McCanns “full time, with the agreement of the communications company” that presently employs him.
Gerry is still working as a cardiologist at Leicester Hospital, where he returned to in 2008. But Kate never worked in medicine again. Her days, Clarence Mitchell explains, are dedicated “to taking care of the twin children and working on the campaign to find Madeleine”. Maddie’s mother’s agenda includes working with organisations that are dedicated to finding missing children and “meetings with the authorities”.
The McCanns have also often returned to Portugal. Their last visit was on the 10th of April, when Gerry and Kate went to Praia da Luz. Mitchell does not wish to reveal details about what they did there. On their passage through Lisbon, the couple had breakfast with Rogério Alves, in order to be informed about the course of the lawsuits that are still under way in Portuguese Justice.
Murat left Praia da Luz
The person who does not wish to hear about the case anymore is Robert Murat, the Englishman who lived in Praia da Luz who was the first arguido in the process, after a journalist [see Robert Murat was accused by two British Journalists] from Sky News launched suspicions about the man who was always around the media that were covering the case and offered his services as a translator.
Nowadays, Murat does not live in Praia da Luz anymore. He has moved into a house in Lagos and does not want to speak to journalists anymore. His lawyer, Francisco Pagarete, assures that the Englishman “has never worked again”. In 2008, the British subject received compensation of approximately 750 thousand euro, paid by four English media groups that were accused of libelling him.
Another person who has not returned to work is the inspector who headed the PJ’s investigation, Gonçalo Amaral, who refuses to make a statement this week. “I do not take part in celebrations. I will speak later”, he told SOL, two days after he went on TVI [evening newscast] to devalue the 195 leads from Scotland Yard. “It is very easy to collect leads from sightings and mediums”, he commented.
Lawsuits in the courts
The McCanns’ lawsuit to receive 1.2 million euro compensation from Gonçalo Amaral starts in September.
Five years after Madeleine McCann disappeared in Praia da Luz, the lawsuits that were generated by the media confusion surrounding the case are still dragging through the Portuguese courts.
On the 13th of September, the lawsuit that was filed by Kate and Gerry McCann against the former Judiciary Police inspector, Gonçalo Amaral, starts to be tried. The parents of the little English girl that disappeared on the 3rd of May of 2007 take Amaral to court in order to prevent him from writing or commenting about the case again, but also to demand compensation in the amount of 1.2 million euro over what they say are the damages created by the book “The Truth of the Lie”, written by the former policeman.
The first sessions – which have been scheduled for the 13th, the 14th, the 20th and the 21st, at Lisbon’s 1st Civil Court – will be used to hear out Kate, Gerry and their friends. Nevertheless, it is not certain that the English people will come to the Campus of Justice for their depositions, as until now they have almost always chosen to testify through video-conference.
Appeals Court agreed with Gonçalo Amaral
This week, Gonçalo Amaral’s book – which explains the alleged involvement of the parents in Madeleine’s disappearance - returns to the bookshops.
The books that were edited by Guerra & Paz have been in the McCanns’ possession for years. But the Appeals Court ended up agreeing with Gonçalo Amaral’s appeal and overturned the injunction that had led to the seizing of all of the book’s copies.
The main lawsuit, which is taking its course at Lisbon’s 1st Civil Court, also already includes an Appeals Court decision that is favourable for the former Judiciary Police inspector. “There is a sentence that places Gonçalo Amaral’s book and comments within the scope of freedom of expression”, his lawyer, Fátima Esteves, explains.
Lawsuits against newspapers with no end in sight
The lawsuits that oppose the McCanns and the Portuguese newspapers also remain undecided. “There is no court decision yet”, Kate and Gerry’s lawyer, Rogério Alves, summarises.
The lawsuits that were filed by Robert Murat – who was an arguido in the disappearance – against the newspapers ’24 Horas’ (already extinct), ‘Jornal de Notícias’ and ‘Correio da Manhã’ do not have a final decision either. “The lawsuits are still ongoing”, says his lawyer, Francisco Pagarete.
in: Sol, 04.05.2012, paper edition, available online next week.