1.Everyone shall possess the right to freely express and publicise his thoughts in words, images or by any other means, as well as the right to inform others, inform himself and be informed without hindrance or discrimination 2.Exercise of the said rights shall not be hindered or limited by any type or form of censorship Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, Article 37.º

Maddie: Ex-Pat defends cops

By Gail Edgar

A Dublin man now living in Praia da Luz, close to the apartment where the McCanns were staying when Madeleine vanished, has defended the Portuguese police's investigation of the case.

Retired cellar master Morris Lee, who's been living in the Algarve town for five years, clearly remembers the night of May 3, 2007 when a friend of the couple came to ask if he or his wife Truda had seen the little girl.

"They knocked on our villa door about 11.25 to see if we had seen a child in pink pyjamas and my wife said no," he said.

"We went back to bed and we didn't think too much more about it. We honestly thought the child had just wandered off somewhere."

Morris said the woman was quite calm.

"She wasn't distraught, she just said have you seen a child that's gone missing?

"We said well if she was awake and walking down the road she would have been crying and someone would have noticed her."

In the days following Maddie's disappearance, members of the McCann family and British media began to criticise the local police for what they claimed was a slow response.

Other criticisms levelled at the police included a failure to notify the ports and borders in time and failure to secure the crime scene, leading to the loss of vital clues.

But ex-pat Morris said he thinks claims like these are unfair. "They said they destroyed a crime scene by wandering all around, but it wasn't a crime scene — it was a missing child scene, that's all it was.

"The child was missing and the Portuguese police were out searching for her until 2 o'clock in the morning.

"Yes, they did go into the apartment, but so did lots of other people — the McCanns' guests were in the apartment too."

He added that it would be possible to get to the Spanish border in under an hour-and-a-half.

"Another thing the Portuguese police were criticised for was that they didn't close the borders with Spain, but there are no borders between here and Spain.

"I drive over there quite often. You don't have to show passports and there are no guards there.

"Maybe if there was a war going on or something the border would be closed, but not for a missing child.

"They didn't notify the police here until an hour after she went missing so whoever took her had that hour's headstart."

Morris added that Irish and British people may find it difficult to understand the law under which the Portuguese police are working — legislation drawn up after the abolition of the Salazar-Caetano dictatorship.

"They've only had their freedom since 1974.

"They were a dictatorship up until then and they didn't know what freedom was.

"When the dictator was thrown out they changed all the laws because they didn't want people to go through the same torture etc to get information out of them. One of those laws is you don't charge somebody until you've got enough evidence."

Morris said most people in Praia da Luz want to forget about what happened almost a year ago and added that there has been downturn in tourists compared to last year. "The companies have noticed that the number of families were down at Easter.

"It could have been that Easter was too early, or because of the McCanns."

He's also critical of the McCanns for leaving their three young children alone in their apartment.

"They should just never have done it and they know they shouldn't have done it.

"They have to live with it for the rest of their lives which is tough on them, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. It's sad.

"With the greatest respect to Mr McCann, he could not have seen the apartment from where he was — I think he might have seen a corner of it.

"Kate said she checked every half hour, but a hell of a lot can happen in a half hour."

Morris said he is baffled why so much attention is focused on Maddie and not on the many other children who go missing.

"Here in Portugal everybody's talking about it and all over England and Ireland — why's that not happening with every child?"

The McCann family has strong Irish connections. Gerry's mother Eileen owns the People's Bar in St Johnston, Donegal close to the border with Co Londonderry.

As our picture shows, the family visited the village last Easter, just weeks before Maddie disappeared.

Source: Sunday Life


1 comment:

  1. No suprise that Kate was calm and collected when they knocked on the door asking about Madeleine, I have never seen her or Gerry anything but calm.
    I think the death threats to the McCanns could be more spin from Clarence although we live in hope!!
    Its funny the ex p.j is saying he is being targeted and then the McCanns claim they are threatened, with the constant spin from Clarence it could be to muddy the waters where the threats to the inspector are concerned.
    None of this had to happen if the McCanns were not so hell bent on going boozing with their mates leaving the kids alone.

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