Sighting referenced in the [Judiciary Police] case files was crucial for selection of site to find Maddie
by Marisa Rodrigues
The site in Praia da Luz where the British Police yesterday began the search for the body of Madeleine McCann was not chosen at random.
Seven years ago, a witness [Smith family, read statements given to Portuguese police] saw a man carrying a child in his arms in a nearby street, walking towards the beach. And, in the close vicinity, live people whom the English detectives consider to be persons “of interest”.
It was the cross-checking of this data, coupled with the fact that a vacant lot underlies both factors, that has led the police to believe that the girl's body may have been buried there.
The terrain has an extension equivalent to two football fields long. According to locals, in the 60s, a resort was planned to be erected, a project that failed. For decades nothing was built there and seven years ago, when Madeleine disappeared, it was one of the places searched by the Guarda Nacional Repúblicana (GNR) with sniffer dogs.
The accesses to the search sites, situated along the Rua 25 de Abril, was cut off by the GNR, shortly after midnight. At the highest point, on the top of a hill, the GNR control post was established. It was also there that they have concentrated, starting at 11 am, all the vehicles and means, and where they unloaded the equipment needed for the operation, planned to last until Friday.
Specialized technicians of an English company made the photographic and topographic reconnaissance and there were police officers traversing the area on foot. Specific areas were marked with stakes and tents were mounted on top of them.
The PJ and Scotland Yard were in a meeting for about two hours. Each one of the police officers and technicians, as well as the vehicles, authorized to be on the ground received “credentials”.
These steps are part of the British investigation, which now follows the theory that Madeleine was abducted, killed and buried in Praia da Luz. The Public Prosecutor's Office has authorized searches with sniffer dogs, georadar and also excavations. The latter should only take place if relevant evidence is found.
The action plan is decided on a daily basis, depending on the progress of the operations. The PJ is present, controls and monitors, but all the equipment, as well as dogs, are the responsibility of the British, who assume all costs. The coordinators of the PJ in Faro and Portimão, Luís Mota Carmo and Ana Paula Rito, have closely followed the operations.
Scotland Yard has already announced that they want to ask for more searches to be done in at least two other sites. The operations ended at 18:20pm and will be resumed this morning. For the time being, the police from both countries have not provided any official statements.
in Jornal de Notícias, June 3, 2014 - paper edition