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Murat, an arguido just because - Expresso

Investigation English dogs’ scent is the only evidence against the parents. Murat was made an arguido based on an English journalist

Murat, an arguido just because

Expresso discloses PJ’s final report

Not even the reasoning of famous detective Sherlock Holmes – after eliminating the impossible, the hypothesis that remains, no matter how unlikely, must be the truth – can be applied to the case of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, on the 3rd of May 2007. In its final report, that Expresso had access to, the Polícia Judiciária (PJ) asserts that all possibilities were exhaustively investigated: abduction, murder, accidental death and even the child having left the apartment on her own. To no avail. “Did the girl go up in smoke?” Gonçalo Amaral, the former inspector who directed the investigation for five months, asked last week.

The complete disorientation of the investigation is exposed by the constitution of Robert Murat as an arguido: denounced by an English journalist, who found his curiosity towards the press strange, the judiciária considered that he reunited all the conditions to be presumed a suspect. Reasons? A set of unspecified pieces of “information”, one of them related to Jane Turner [sic], one of the group’s elements, who reportedly stated she saw a man carrying a child, walking into the direction of Robert Murat’s house.

The PJ placed Robert Murat and other “individuals with whom he directly or indirectly interacted” under surveillance, they searched his house, excavated his garden. Result: “Despite the exhaustive and methodical investigation of Murat and the persons that are close to him, no elements were collected that would connect them to the crime that is under investigation”.

The frailty of the collected indices does not only apply to Robert Murat. Also concerning Gerry and Kate McCann, the sole evidence that was collected over 13 months, which directly connects the parents to an eventual death of their daughter, is the scent of two English «springer spaniel» dogs that were in Portugal during the investigations. “One of the dogs was trained to detect cadaver odour and the other one to detect traces of human blood”.

And what did they detect? One of them detected cadaver odour “in the couple’s bedroom, in a corner, near the wardrobe, and in the living room, behind the sofa, near the side window of the apartment” that was rented by the couple at the Ocean Club, in Aldeia da Luz. The dog that specializes in detecting the odour of blood, marked a spot in the living room, precisely coinciding with the location that had been identified with cadaver odour.

The marking of cadaver odour followed into clothing and personal items: on two pieces of clothing that belong to Kate McCann, on another piece belonging to Madeleine, and on the soft toy that was habitually used by the child (here, the dog marked cadaver odour both in the inside and the outside of the apartment). The strange odours were further detected on the key and in the trunk of the car that was rented by the McCanns on the 27th of May 2007, 24 days after the evening of the disappearance. It was based on the dogs’ performance that Gerry and Kate were made arguidos. The PJ says that, in Kate’s case, her constitution as an arguida was due to “the mere possibility of her involvement with the eventual cadaver”.

At the same time that thousands of sightings that reached the PJ, concerning supposed sightings of the minor, were being digested, the investigation elaborated a listing of the communications that were made by the mobile phones that were used in the area of the Ocean Club. The hundreds of crossings of phone calls yielded no results either. It should be pointed out, though, that the Public Ministry wanted to access the contents of 14 text messages that went through Gerry McCann’s mobile phone on the 3rd and 4th of May, but the instruction judge, Pedro Frias, impeded said diligence. The biological residues that were collected from inside the car were analysed in Portugal and in England, but the results did not allow for a conclusion to be reached.

On its way to the archive

In their final report, the PJ stresses the “magnitude” of the operation that was initially built to search for the minor. Something that “right from the outset, exceeded the dimension that is commonly applied to similar cases”. But after 13 months, there is only one conclusion: “From everything that was done, and despite the efforts that were made and all lines of investigation having been explored, it results that it is not possible to obtain a solid and objective conclusion about what truly happened on that evening, and about the present location of the missing minor”.

“This way, as we do not envision, at the moment, any diligence within the process that would be susceptible of producing a useful result for the present files”, according to the document, the judiciária places the final decision on the case in the hands of prosecutor Magalhães e Menezes. According to what Expresso was able to establish, the Republic’s General Attorney, Pinto Monteiro, asked the Public Ministry’s prosecutors that have been accompanying the case (Bilro Verão, the district prosecutor of Évora, and Magalhães e Menezes, who is directly responsible for the investigation) to produce a final decision before the end of this month.


Excerpts from the PJ’s report

Throughout these more than 13 months, the investigation followed all the credible indicia that concerned different hypotheses and tried to analyze, to correlate and to synthesize them in an impartial form.

From the 4th onwards – the day that followed the facts – the PJ was reached by thousands of sightings and locations that covered the entire national territory, the most diversified foreign locations, from neighbouring Spain until Indonesia.

It should be stressed that the entire apartment had been searched through and rummaged by an undetermined number of persons, with the contamination that it carries and the difficulty in collecting residues.

The PJ, probably unlike in no other investigation in Portugal, did not spare any efforts in the sense of providing exceptional technical, human and financial means to discover the minor.

The persons (the parents and the couple’s friends) were inquired in a detailed and lengthy manner, on diverse occasions, with the purpose of collecting any relevant elements.

The degree of cooperation and understanding between the PJ and the Leicester Constabulary attained very high levels.

The witness Rachel Mampilly admits to having established contacts with British television station BBC at around 2 a.m. on the morning of the 4th [of May].

The forensic exams did not corroborate the canine markings, more precisely, cell material was collected that could not be identified as belonging to a determined person, and it was not even possible to establish the quality of that material.

It results that it is not possible to obtain a solid finding about what happened on that evening.


“The life of a man was destroyed”

Robert Murat’s lawyer reveals unknown episodes, advancing that he is preparing to sue the State

After one more day participating in the searches, Robert Murat was invited by two inspectors from the Polícia Judiciária to have a drink. It was a Sunday evening, and Murat accompanied them but, “for their misfortune, Robert is an Englishman who only drinks white coffee, because on Monday morning he was taken to the PJ and if he hadn’t been sober, I don’t know what his deposition would have looked like”. The episode, one more in the last year of the Englishman’s life, was told to Expresso by Francisco Pagarete, Murat’s lawyer, who is preparing a complaint against the Portuguese state, following the more than likely archiving of the case.

“A man’s life was destroyed”. This was the Portimão lawyer’s reaction when he was confronted by Expresso with the contents of the Polícia Judiciária’s final report about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. “What was done to this man was a profound injustice. As recently as this week, we were on a terrace and a group of people nearby got up whispering his name. The damages that were suffered by my client are incalculable”, declared Francisco Pagarete, for who the archiving “is only at fault for being late”. And it cannot be said that an archiving in the middle of an investigation is unheard of. The same happened to former Environment minister Luís Nobre Guedes in the so-called Portucale process. The investigation was only halfway through and the Public Ministry decided to archive the suspicions against the former head of CDS.

“It has to be taken into account that Robert was presented to the world as a suspect, after having spent 19 hours at the Polícia Judiciária without eating or drinking. His life was laid open, as well as the life of his family in England”, Francisco Pagarete said. The lawyer said that he is only awaiting authorization to access the process files in order to start preparing the suit against the State and “against some persons who witnesses things that are not true”.

Archiving is “to be expected”

While stressing that he was not notified of any dispatch from the Public Ministry (PM), Rogério Alves, the McCann couple’s lawyer, declared that taking into account the contents of the PJ’s document, an archiving dispatch from the PM is “absolutely to be expected”. “I believe in the couple’s innocence and the investigation could not find indicia of guilt against someone who is not guilty”, Rogério Alves further commented.



2000 diligences in the process into Maddie’s disappearance

700 persons were inquired by the investigation

443 houses were rummaged by the inspectors on the days that followed the disappearance

300 persons participated in the mega-search operation

22 dossiers with “speculative or unlikely news, like psychic visions”


Note from the Direction

An incredible despise

It is completely legal, and undisputable. But it is an unbelievable despise for individual rights. The PJ’s report about the Maddie case leaves no doubts – Robert Murat was made an arguido, and has been kept that way for 13 months, over… nothing. Over absolutely nothing!

An English journalist found Murat to be suspicious and the Polícia Judiciária investigated him. They turned his house, his garden upside down, rummaged through his computer, his life, his friends. They found nothing. But they didn’t say anything either, in the name of the holy ‘judicial secrecy’.

What kind of Justice is this, which allows for a man to be under public scrutiny, a suspect, earning side glances, losing opportunities and business, when against him there is not the slightest indicium, as the PJ itself reveals? Without him being related, not even minimally, with the missing child?

And what kind of Justice is this, that lets the rumor run – in the newspapers, on tv, everywhere – that the parents could be guilty of the child’s death without there being the smallest solid indicium against them?

The Maddie case is a shame for the Portuguese justice. It is necessary that all the possible lessons, in their entire extension, are taken out of this case. About the manner in which the police acted; about the ease with which arguidos were made; about the judicial secrecy. So the iniquity of a secret does never again overlay the necessary Justice.

source: Expresso, 12.07.2008, paper edition


  1. The secrecy of justice hasn't been lifted and yet you have all these papers claiming they have had access to police files. If it is true it doesn't speak well for the Portuguese
    justice system.

  2. Não se percebe como o Expresso e o C da M têm acesso a um relatório dirigido ao MP.
    Desacredita totalmente o famoso segredo de justiça que arrisca muito passar por apenas um meio de esconder falhas, lacunas, insuficiências. Pena !


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