After more than six years since Madeleine McCann disappeared without a trace, in Praia da Luz, what is it that we know as a fact?
Strictly speaking, nothing whatsoever. We do not know if the child, who was about to celebrate its fourth anniversary, was kidnapped, murdered, suffered an accidental death or was a victim of negligent homicide. The eccentrics who believe in furtive visits from extraterrestrials might even argue that she was abducted by an UFO transiting the Algarve, on that fateful night of May 3, 2007.
Does the absence of answers prove the incompetence of the police? Not really. The idea that a police investigation may unravel any crime is exaggerated. A criminal who acts deliberately has the advantage of the initiative and can choose the circumstances of time, place and manner of the crime. If the plan is well defined and its execution does not have flaws it is possible to get away with it. All the police forces in the world, including the British, are faced with enigmas that cannot be solved, particularly in the context of the disappearance of children.
Since it is impossible to make an autopsy of the crime, it is necessary to dissect a process that died prematurely. There yes, it is easy to recognize the flaws. The evidence of a crime of exposure or abandonment [child neglect] that might have been committed against three children of two to three years of age entrusted to their fates, were discarded. The constitution of Robert Murat as an arguido based on a profile of unrelated facts was hastened. The co-existence in the investigation of incompatible arguidos (Murat, suspected of abduction and Maddie's parents, murder suspects) was absurd.
Even without procedural errors, the success of this investigation could not be assured. Moreover, I do not think the Judiciary Police has waived any efforts or overlooked any leads. In any case, the errors weakened the image of the Portuguese Justice, in a process subject to international media scrutiny never seen before. This pressure was responsible for a "haste" which proved to be a bad adviser. Haste should be confined to the investigation. In the constitution of the arguido and in the accusation, everything has to be weighed against criteria.
Correio da Manhã, October 17, 2013
More equal than others
by Manuel Catarino, Editor-in-chief [author of the book 'The Guilt of the McCanns']
What came from England about the disappearance of the little girl, Maddie, cannot be confused with a criminal investigation: it is an interesting BBC television production - under the patronage of the British government and the invaluable collaboration of the London police - which fits as a glove to the McCanns' expediences.
Gerry and Kate hurriedly abandoned our country two days after they were constituted as arguidos. The investigation, which until then had focused on the abduction, had admitted the accidental death of the child. The couple flies back to England under the stigma of this dreaded suspicion.
The London Metropolitan Police, by insisting now on the only path of the abduction, removes the suspicions the McCanns have carried since the Algarve. Never before a British government has became so interested in a missing child. Gerry and Kate can count on the solidarity of three executives: two Labour, one Conservative. They are worth more than many other British parents of missing children. Maybe master John Le Carré has an opinion on this mystery.
Correio da Manhã, October 17, 2013