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

A Case of Millions - Focus nº 466/2008

Madeleine McCann

A case of millions

Never before had the disappearance of a child prompted the circulation of so much money. And one year later, the case still produces profits

After the 700 thousand euros that they received from a simple apology by two English newspapers, the McCann couple recently announced that they are preparing to publish an official book about the search for their daughter, Madeleine, which may yield them approximately half a million euros. With the possibility that this value increases into one million, according to expectations that were made public by a senior official from a London editor. These amounts will help to face the McCanns’ millionaire expenses in the ongoing search for their daughter, who has been missing for one year. A sign that there is no longer a way to count the parents’ gains through the fund that was created shortly after Madeleine McCann disappeared in Praia da Luz, on the 3rd of May, resides in the fact that the counter has disappeared from the web page that is dedicated to the search for the little girl – www.findmadeleine.com. Anyway, according to the last data that was publicly available, and taking into account the donations that were made by English public figures as influent as multimillionaire Richard Branson – the owner of Virgin – and author J.K. Rowling – the author of Harry Potter – the fund that supports the searches for the 3-year-old girl easily obtained two million euros. Therefore, to find out how much money the case has already moved, one has only to do the calculations, summing the two million euros to the 700 thousand that were obtained from the extra-judicial agreement with the English newspapers, plus the values that can be devised for the book. But the McCanns are not stopping here. A documentary for English channel ITV, marking the first anniversary of the disappearance has brought more money into the family’s coffers. There is also talk of the possibility of a Hollywood-style movie, which again would bring in more money.

At the same time, the McCanns’ press advisor, ex-BBC journalist Clarence Mitchell, has criticized the announcement of a book about the Madeleine case, by ex-coordinator from the Polícia Judiciária (PJ), Gonçalo Amaral: “It’s to make money”.

Gonçalo Amaral, who last week received the superior approval from the PJ to go into early retirement – after 28 years of service -, prepares a book that is titled ‘The Truth of the Lie’, where he intends to exercise what he calls “freedom of speech” and promises exclusive and “explosive” revelations about the investigation that was lead by himself, until he was dismissed, last October, because of statements to the press. Now, free from the professional corset, the revelations from the former PJ Coordinator will only become known when the investigation ceases to be covered by the judicial secrecy. And, in the case of Gonçalo Amaral, an adaptation to the cinema or to a tv documentary is also being mentioned.

Paulo Pereira Cristóvão, a former PJ inspector who, just like Gonçalo Amaral, is being judged in the case of alleged torture of the mother of Joana – the girl that disappeared in Figueira – published two books in less than a year. The first one, titled ‘The Star of Joana’, reports his professional experience as a PJ investigator in the case of the disappearance of the Portuguese girl. The book, which was published in September, on the day before the McCanns were made arguidos, sold over 80 thousand copies. His second book, which was published in mid-March, follows the success of the first one, even in its title: ‘The Star of Madeleine’. But in this book, the author chose to create a police investigator that is a fictional character, although the main participants from reality have been maintained.

The former PJ inspector told Focus that, contrary to the sense of the accusations from the McCanns’ advisor, he does not feel that he is making money out of the exploitation of another person’s misery. He explains: “I wish I hadn’t written the book about Madeleine, but it was not me who decided to place the case in the media spotlight. “It were the parents who did that”, the ex-PJ inspector states. Paulo Pereira Cristóvão further points to the fact that the McCann couple was advised by Gonçalo Amaral himself that they should not publicize any images of their daughter, because in case of a kidnapping, that would put her life at risk. When they accepted to explore the image of Madeleine, namely through the creation of a website for the collection of funds, with a logo that made the spot in the right eye stand out as a unique identifying mark of their daughter, that changed the course of the investigation.

Carlos Anjos, the president of the Union of Criminal Investigation Workers (ASFIC) seconded these statements in public, when he participated in the debate programme on RTP1, ‘Prós e Contras’, and even said that such a divulgement was the equivalent to “sentencing the little child to death”. Any pedophile that would be holding Madeleine McCann captive and realized that there was a spot in her eye that could never be erased or disguised – contrary to hair color, for example – would try to get rid of her as soon as possible.

The public divulgation of the case did not only open the doors to that macabre possibility, but also justified the entire media industry that followed, namely the publication of the books that were dedicated to or inspired in the events of the evening of the 3rd of May 2007.

The first book about the Madeleine case was published in Portugal on the 9th of November, two months after the parents were made arguidos. The Maddie 129 book – which owes its title to the number of days that mediated between the disappearance of the little girl in Praia da Luz and her parents’ departure to England – is signed by journalists Hernâni Carvalho and Luís Maia. This book has been translated into English, meanwhile, and is included in the catalogue of a new editing company that was launched on last 25th of April – Rui Costa Pinto Edições. This editor has made the book available in the e-book format – meaning it has to be directly downloaded into a computer after the online payment – on the www.rcpedicoes.com website. Apart from the book about Madeleine McCann, the same editor has announced the release of a non-authorized biography of prime minister José Sócrates and a book about the polemics surrounding the CIA’s illegal planes.

Hernâni Carvalho, speaking to Focus, says that one year later, the balance that can be made “is a credibility and a financial loss for Portugal. Nobody was yet capable of telling us how much the search for Madeleine has cost us already”, he points out.

Concerning the expenses made by the McCann couple, and the profits that they may have made from the search, the journalist and tv commentator that is specialized in crimes, notices that “the couple is used to taking good care of themselves. They use the best lawyers and the best consultants. Joana’s mother had none of this”, he says, referring to the crime in Figueira, where Leonor Cipriano was accused of the death of her daughter, despite the fact that, similarly to the Madeleine McCann case, her daughter’s body was never found.

Gerry and Kate McCann received the 700 thousand euros after an extra-judicial agreement with British newspapers Daily Express and Daily Star, which also had to publish a front page article in which it guaranteed the English readers that the couple was “completely innocent” of the death and concealment of their daughter’s cadaver.

The Madeleine McCann case will fulfill a complete year on Saturday, but despite being arguidos, the McCanns continue to demand a VIP treatment from the Portuguese judicial authorities, like, for example, the request for a private jet and bookings in a five-star-hotel for themselves and their friends, as a condition to come to Portugal to participate in the reconstitution of the evening at hand. The Portuguese judicial authorities refused to comply with the demands, and the request was seen as a strategy to frustrate the possibility of recreating the night of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

“Since the first day of this case, soon a year ago, I pointed out the need of carrying out a reconstitution. That should have been done in the days that followed the disappearance”, Paulo Pereira Cristóvão told Focus. This former element of the PJ explains that, at that time, with all participants present on national territory, with the possibility of closely reconstituting the illumination conditions of the season at Praia da Luz, everything would have been easier to prove on location. Especially the statements that the witnesses made on paper during their depositions to the PJ.

The recently discussed possibility that the couple may be accused of abandoning and exposing their three-year-old daughter and two-year-old twins to danger, is seen as “ridiculous, if it is confirmed one year later”, the former inspector said. Paulo Pereira Cristóvão remembered that since the very first moment, he also pointed out the legal possibility of applying that accusation, as foreseen by Portuguese justice. If they were not accused one year ago, why would they be accused one year later?

The Portuguese expert in criminal law and in marketing law, Mário Correia de Almeida, told Focus that everything “has been running well for the McCann couple, especially since September, when they again enjoyed the communication advisory services of former BBC journalist, Clarence Mitchell”.

The jurist does not hide that “at the outset of the case, many people believed that the parents were innocent. After they were made arguidos, that changed, but at the moment, there are people who give them the benefit of doubt, again”. And this was partly achieved through the several thousands of euros that dripped from donations that were made by millionaire figures like businessman Brian Kennedy – who pays Clarence Mitchell’s salary.

Regarding the position of the British press and the recent apology from the two newspapers, Mário Correia de Almeida explains that “it is easier for them, in this phase, to say that the parents are innocent. Thus they defend the side of the British press itself, which always placed their bets on the incompetence of the Portuguese police”. And he adds: “If some day the parents’ guilt is proved, they can also sue them because they were forced to apologize”. And they may demand money. Plenty of it.

Does crime compensate? For the ex-PJ inspector Paulo Pereira Cristóvão, “who profited from the little girl’s disappearance was surely the authors of that crime”. Who are those authors? Almost 366 days later, it is still not known.

When it is 10.30 p.m. in Praia da Luz, next Saturday, it is not likely that Madeleine McCann enters through a door, to be received by the flashing lights of photo cameras or tv spotlights. Despite everything, the detectives from the agency that is located in Barcelona, Método3, that were hired by the parents for a millionaire price, to search for their daughter all over the world, continue to live off the expectations that they feed. Last December, for example, they even suggested that the child could reappear during the Christmas celebrations.

One year ago, Madeleine’s parents were simply to English doctors on holidays in the Algarve. After the 3rd of May, they became the focus of the world’s attentions, propelled by a press that is avid for “real life soap operas”, and those attentions were explored on an almost daily basis during the 129 days during which they resided permanently on national soil, before they left through the VIP door at Faro airport, heading for their home in Rothley.

In the small village on the outskirts of Leicester, the parents now try to recover normal daily life with their twin children, but preparing for another symbolic date, the 12th of May, which marks the age of five years for their missing daughter that they say they believe to be still alive, somewhere in the world.

If there is anything that society learned throughout the last year, to Hernâni Carvalho it is a negative teaching: “We learned that contrary to what the Portuguese Constitution says, some people are more equal than others”, he says.

The same can be said about the police cases: “There are also cases that are more equal than others, and I justify that: if the English ambassador had not explained to the PJ what was happening, would the police’s attitude have been the same?”, the author of ‘Maddie 129’ asks. This accusation against the role of the English ambassador, who himself phoned the PJ’s director, Alípio Ribeiro, informing him about the events and then personally heading into the Algarve to follow the PJ’s actions closely, was also criticized by Manuel Catarino, chief editor of daily newspaper ‘Correio da Manhã’ and author of the book ‘The McCanns’ Guilt’: “Since the very first hour, it was established in London that this was an abduction case”, he said.

For Hernâni Carvalho, there are no doubts that “the diplomacy crossed ways with the investigation”, and concerning the removal of the head of the investigation, Gonçalo Amaral, the journalist notes that it took place at the exact same time that the English prime minister, Gordon Brown, accepted to sign the important Lisbon Treaty: “This is no coincidence, these are facts that the country and the world witnessed. What did we see afterwards? Everyone was quiet and nothing was questioned”, he observed.

In England, a book was recently published which is the first one about the Madeleine McCann case, although mixed with other facts from the summer of 2007, like for example the switching of occupants in number 10 of Downing Street, the home to the British government. A few days after the disappearance of the little girl in the Algarve, Prime Minister Tony Blair confirmed his intention to resign at the middle of his mandate, and his number two, Gordon Brown, ascended to the post without an election. The recent British traumas are dissected in the book ‘Born Yesterday’, by British writer Gordon Burn. A book in which the author enters analytical details, without a normal plot, but a jouney through television news, which are the true soap opera of our days. And he focuses on details like the mark in Madeleine McCann’s right eye, the defective eye of Robert Murat – who was made an arguido on the 15th of May 2007 – and the defective eye of Prime Minister Gordon Brown himself – he had a dislocated retina in his left eye, when he was young.

Gordon Burn’s book also focuses our attention on another detail that was lost within the elusive memory of news that swamp us with information for days in a row, only to forget the issues afterwards, as if they had never existed. One of those cases was the condemnation to six months of imprisonment (initially it was ten months but reduced after an appeal) of English actor Chris Langham for consulting pedophile websites and using a credit card to purchase photos and movies. Among the movies that were found on his computer, was the abduction and torture of a teenager, the sexual abuse of a seven-year-old child, and of another child, aged 12. Gordon Burn states that, 15 days later, the law firm that defended this actor was chosen by the McCann couple to defend them, and to fight pedophiles all over the world.

Frederico Duarte Carvalho
in: Focus, edition 446/2008, dated April 30, 2008


Interview with José Pinto da Costa

“There even isn’t gasoline for the cars”

Forensics doctor José Pinto da Costa is convinced that soon the truth about the Madeleine McCann case will be known, and criticizes the lack of means in our PJ

Focus – What do you think that happened in the Maddie case?

José Pinto da Costa – I don’t know, and at the moment, nobody else does. But soon the truth will be known, under the popular saying “when the women get angry at each other, truths are discovered”.

Focus – Whom exactly are you referring to?

JPC – I’m not saying anything further. Let the journalists investigate that.

Focus – About the Maddie case, you once made the following comment: “We are not going to set the world straight, and we are not going to twist it either, but it seems more than legitimate that criminal investigation should not have any breaks apart from what is conventionally valid from a scientific point of view.” What did you mean with that?

JPC – I was referring to the limitations. In this case, the Polícia Judiciária was investigating and decided that a certain line should be followed, which, according to the scientific data, was precisely the one that had to be followed. Then, they did not follow the path that could discover the truth. There is also a rumor that the British government pressured the Portuguese government, I cannot believe something like that (in an ironical tone).

Focus – Don’t you find it strange that, like in the Joana case, a person is convicted without the body being found?

JPC – It is a bit strange for the criminal investigation. But there is a clause there, that has been generally omitted, that is the fact that a confession existed. I do not wish to say now, under what circumstances that confession happened. In our legal system, what matters is what the person states during a trial.

Focus – At that time, information was reported that there were residues of blood in the house where the little girl lived.

JPC – It is not enough to say that there was blood. It has to be analyzed in a laboratory. A stain can appear to be blood, but it may not even be blood. And being blood, it may come from a human or from an animal. It can be told apart, but tests have to be made. And now talking about the Maddie case, I have 90 percent of the news that have been reported by the media. Those news are completely contradictory. And there is a lack of credibility.

Focus – Are there no means of analysis and investigation?

JPC – No. There are not. Even because sometimes there is not enough money to fill the cars with gasoline, and there are also cars that are broken and do not run.

Marta Araújo
in: Focus, edition 446/2008, dated April 30, 2008

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