by Sandra Felgueiras/Carlos Pinota/Nuno Castro
We dive in the Madeleine case and in the unprecedented British operation, taking place in Praia da Luz since Monday that will continue until next week. Thirty English police officers, equipped with two dogs expert in detecting victims [sic, should say cadavers], a geo-radar and probes to inspect the sewage system, make up what should be the last step of the British investigation. The ‘Sexta às 9’ [news programme at RTP 2] knows that the head of the operation, Andy Redwood, will retire later this year. For now, the Judiciary Police refutes these leads altogether, which have not yield any results so far. The PJ does not believe that Madeleine is buried in any of the three search sites in Praia da Luz that Scotland Yard has in sight and therefore did not sent any member of the PJ team investigating the case in Portugal for the Algarve.
Tom Burridge - "Obviously the key question is - why?"
Sandra Felgueiras - It's the question that is on every person’s mind, and the answer is this: This site was chosen because it was at the end of this street [Rua da Escola Primária], on May 3, 2007, a little while after 10pm, that an Irish couple saw a man carrying a child on his arms, walking towards the beach. Later on Mr. and Mrs. Smith, would state that that man was Gerry McCann, but they were never formally questioned by the Judiciary Police, so that information was never included in the final report of the process [case] that was archived at one point.
Today, that lead has been, once again, deemed as important, not because Gerry McCann is considered a suspect but because the English police holds the belief that Madeleine may be buried here.
That is the reason why over thirty English police officers are here,and also because in the vicinity of this area there are three houses where three people considered as suspects used to live.
Cut to DCI Andy Redwood entering a car
Sandra Felgueiras - [on location, close to searches site] "Mr. Redwood, if you find nothing you'll continue this operation?"
Sandra Felgueiras - Andy Redwood is the head of this operation, in all likelihood the last step of the English investigation to the Madeleine case. 'Sexta às 9’ knows that this Scotland Yard police officer intends to retire at the end of the current year. Andy doesn't say a word on the investigation that is now run under the utmost secrecy, as Tom, the BBC correspondent, explains us.
Tom Burridge - [on location, close to searches site] In terms of information, now, that this search is underway, we are not having any information, the British press from the Metropolitan police.
Sandra Felgueiras - None at all?
Tom Burridge - None at all.
Sandra Felgueiras - Do you think that this can be the last step from the British police? Considering that now, if they are excavating they might be looking for a body?
Tom Burridge - I'm speculating, I don't know this for sure, but from working on this story a fair amount, I think it is possible, or maybe even likely that this is an extensive operation - and we've seen that it is, they're obviously doing a lot of activity here, we don't know why they're doing the activity in particular spots of this fairly large site here - but it's possible that this is some form of culmination or a big push to try and find clues that could lead to us knowing what happened to Madeleine McCann, seven years ago.
Sandra Felgueiras - [voice over] In the last two years, under the high patronage of the English Prime Minister, Scotland Yard has already spent about 8 million euro. [sic, value is closest to 10 million GBP roughly 12 million EUR]
Tom Burridge - [on location, close to searches site] All I know is that there's a lot of pressure on the police. The Prime Minister David Cameron has spoken on camera about this issue in the past and expressed his desire the investigation is concluded. The Home Secretary [Theresa May], the Interior Minister back in Britain has spoken on several occasions, a lot of public money has been spent on Operation Grange, the British police's investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, and there is the public opinion, there is pressure on the police. This investigation is anything but normal, and it has never been normal from the very day that Madeleine McCann disappeared.
Cut to sniffer dogs searches on the site
Sandra Felgueiras - This is the second time, that British dogs, specially trained to find cadavers are brought to work on this case. the first time, happened in August 2007 and was responsible for the turnaround of the investigation
Cut to dramatization of sniffer dogs searches on the McCann's rented apartment in Luz, archive footage from Sandra Felgueiras/RTP November 2007 documentary about the Maddie case titled 'Madeleine, A Anatomia de um Mistério' [Madeleine, Anatomy of a Mystery], an 8 minute excerpt can be seen bellow transcript.
Sandra Felgueiras - [on location, close to apartment 5A] From abduction, the authorities had now begun to believe that Madeleine was dead and were convinced the McCann couple were the main suspects. At that time, two English sniffer dogs alerted to cadaver odour and blood in this apartment [points to 5A] from where Madeleine disappeared and also in the car rented by the McCanns at a later time.
Cut to dramatization of sniffer dogs searches on the McCann's Renault car, that was rented 23 days after the disappearance of Madeleine McCann
Sandra Felgueiras - The findings of these sniffer dogs [Eddie and Keela] weren't confirmed later on by the Forensic laboratory in Birmingham [Forensic Science Service (FSS) was extinct in 2010] which lead the PJ to the conclusion to never use them again in any Portuguese investigation.
What are, after all, these sniffer dogs capable of? In 2007, we interviewed an Irish dog handler that showed us the sniffer dogs potential
Unnamed Irish dog handler - [archive footage/see also video bellow] When he scratches that is the dog's indication, corroborating...
Sandra Felgueiras - Dogs can change an investigation lead?
Unnamed Irish dog handler - They can help to, err...
Sandra Felgueiras - Consolidate it?
Unnamed Irish dog handler - Consolidate it, yes, yes.
Cut to present time, shot of English police officers gathering while the springer spaniels Muzzy and Tito are resting at their feet.
Sandra Felgueiras - Up to now, in Praia da Luz, not even the dogs that found the cadaver of April Jones in the United Kingdom [body was never found], nor the geo-radar, nor the probes used to inspect the sewage system have produced any result. Reason which has motivated a request for an extension of the English operation in Algarve.
Next week, a contingent of English officers will move the investigation outside the urban perimeter, they will move here to these two fields where excavations will take place. That is precisely what appears in the letters rogatory that were sent to Portugal, where it can be read, inclusively, that they want to question eight suspects [persons of interest], the majority former Ocean Club workers. Those questionings will be done after the searches are concluded by the Judiciary Police.
The fact is, that seven years later there are two ongoing investigations, one Portuguese, one English, running in practically opposing directions. The PJ does not believe at all in this possibility of excavating and finding a cadaver, and for that same reason won't use the only geo-radar that exists and was never used on this case. [read Archiving Dispatch extract from PJ files which contradicts this statement bellow*] The PJ, meanwhile, has discarded Euclides Monteiro as primary suspect, and believes now, that the man who may have taken Madeleine, was a foreigner that has committed an isolated crime, at a time when he was spending his holidays in Portugal.
in RTP, broadcast June 6, 2014
Note* - «Searches were performed at the residence, and the subsoil was explored with a Geo-radar (GPR), - which consists of a radar antenna that transmits electromagnetic energy in the shape of an impulse within frequencies between 25 MHz and 1 GHz. Those impulses are partially reflected through sub-superficial geological structures, captured with a receiving antenna and marked as a time record of continuous bi-directional path which is presented as a pseudo-geological record section - these technical searches neither found nor marked anything of interest to the files» Archiving Dispatch extract, Volume XVII, PJ Process pages 4592 to 4649
Madeleine, Anatomy of a Mystery [8 minutes extract]
A report from Sandra Felgueiras, including her voice over in English | RTP, November 2007