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

The mysterious disappearance of Madeleine McCann

by: Georges Moréas, acclaimed book author and former French Judiciary Police Inspector

Madeleine McCann, known as Maddie, was nearly four years old. On the evening of the 3rd of May 2007, she disappeared from her bedroom in a luxurious tourist complex, the Ocean Club, in the South of Portugal, where she was supposed to have been sleeping.

No one knows what has happened to her since. Recently, the press echoed a statement from the Portuguese justice: file closed. This news is probably false. How can a magistrate, a police officer, allow for a case to be closed without thinking of the victim, a child, almost a baby. What if she was alive!...The confusion comes, surely, from the lack of evidence to charge the three suspects.

THE FACTS: The Ocean Club resort is a group of buildings comprising one residential block, two restaurants, the Tapas and the Millennium, tennis courts, the beach, etc.

On that evening, the McCanns dine with their friends at the Tapas restaurant. At around 10 pm, Kate McCann gets up from the table to check on her children, as she usually does, to ensure that everything is well. Her two babies, twins, are sound asleep in their cots. Her daughter's bedroom door is not closed, which surprises her. She goes in: the window is open, the shutters are up, Maddie is missing.

She rushes back to the restaurant to alert her husband. Together they return to the apartment, accompanied by their friends, and they have to confirm the obvious. Thus they set out to search the surroundings.

This is the situation that is discovered by the first police officers to arrive on location. Everything leads them to believe that the child has escaped. Maybe she is not far away. Searches are organised.

Shortly afterward, the PJ director, in Lisbon, receives a call from the British ambassador on his mobile phone. His caller asks him if he is aware that a British child has disappeared… He acts immediately. One can imagine the amount of phone calls that followed this intervention.

THE FIRST FINDINGS: There is no disorder in the bedroom where the child was sleeping. The bed is undisturbed. There is no evidence of a break-in, neither on the window, nor on the shutters, or on the door. A local enquiry finds witnesses, Irish holidaymakers, who state that shortly before 10 pm, they saw a man carrying a little girl, whose description corresponds perfectly to Madeleine's: face, hair, clothes. Now there is almost no doubt: it’s an abduction. The alert is given.

THE INVESTIGATION BY THE POLÍCIA JUDICIÁRIA: The PJ officers collect witness statements from hundreds of people, and as a priority, from the parents and their friends. They soon notice certain contradictions between them. For example, a woman states that she went past the apartment earlier in the evening and noticed that the bedroom shutters were closed. But Kate McCann states that the window was open and the shutters were up. And the investigators find no trace of tampering.

Furthermore, the shutters can only be opened from the inside. Can we imagine an individual entering through the door, using a lock pick, and exiting through the window, with his victim, after opening the shutters? Furthermore, the child's bed is not disturbed, as if no one had slept in it. Intrigued, the police officers examine the mobile phones belonging to each of the McCanns: the call history has been erased. Astonishing to think of emptying the memory of your mobile phone when your child has just been abducted! But the PJ officers from Faro struggle to do their job. The pressure quickly becomes unbearable. Little Maddie disappeared on Thursday evening. On Friday, the British ambassador, John Buck, is on location, accompanied by important elements from the police and from the judiciary. And on Saturday, three British police officers arrive, in theory to assist their Portuguese colleagues. The contact is not good. The local police officers feel belittled. However, having been involved with the training of Portuguese police officers, I can guarantee that they have no reason to envy either the French or the British - except perhaps over certain technical resources.

The working conditions are the following: 150 Portuguese policemen, 3 British policemen, authorities, diplomats, and journalists... everywhere. Not the ideal for an investigation. On Saturday, the PJ director in Faro tells the press: "It’s an abduction." At the same time, the McCann couple launch their desperate appeal in front of the television cameras. It is even said that the police hold a sketch of the abductor, but it will not be published to avoid endangering the child's life. A little late, isn’t it, to think of the young victim!

During this political, media-exposed bustling, the head of the investigation, commissary Gonçalo Amaral, begins to entertain another possibility. He thinks the McCanns' behaviour is not "natural." Otherwise, why refuse to participate in a reconstitution of the evening? He finds that certain witness statements do not correspond and that it is becoming impossible to determine where anyone was at any time. Thus, an implausible detail emerges when the Irish witness indicates that after seeing Gerry McCann on television, he positively identified him: this is the man that he saw with Maddie in his arms, on Thursday, at around 10 pm. Yes, but at that time, the child's father was in the restaurant with his friends...

Amaral is sceptical. He feels that there is a certain degree of connivance among this group of friends. Did they lie? He returns to the initial findings and examines the places from a different angle - as he would do it for a crime scene. The little girl's death becomes the working hypothesis for the investigators.

EVIDENCE OR PRESUMPTIONS: A suspect is arrested. He is a British citizen living one hundred metres from the resort. I will not mention his name as he has taken action against newspapers which said "certain things" about him, and the press barons backed down. It is said that he received 750.000 €.

Meanwhile, dogs trained to detect certain odours, namely those of blood or cadavers, are brought in. They detect traces inside the apartment, in the couple's bedroom and in the dining room; also on the outside the building. More troubling, the dogs alert on the child's soft toy and on clothes belonging to her mother. The dogs are placed near a car rented by the McCanns, and they sniff suspicious odours there as well. But this vehicle was actually hired after the little girl's disappearance! On the other hand, the dogs detect nothing, either in the car of the British man under investigation, or at his home.

The stranglehold tightens on the McCanns.

In the places marked by the dogs, minute organic fragments are gathered for DNA comparison with Madeleine's (from samples of saliva on her bed covers). The analyses are carried out in Great Britain. When the results arrive, there is no longer any doubt: There are 15 identical markers in the two DNA. It is the little girl.

In early September, the McCann couple is questioned, but released. The press reports that they are suspected of having concealed their daughter's corpse after an accidental death - there is talk of the administration of a sedative that was too powerful (the parents are both doctors) - and that they would have got rid of it afterward by transporting it in a vehicle rented for that purpose.

Meanwhile, this case has achieved an international dimension. The McCanns have called the English Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the investigation is followed more closely by the government of both countries. The press is unleashed. The parents play the victims of a biased, retrograde police force. The British newspapers really lay into the investigators, who are looking at the parents instead of searching for the missing child. The English police officers who are involved with the investigation (and who, in theory, have no power to intervene) do nothing to put things right. The public is gripped by this mysterious story - charged with emotion. A support fund is set up. Brian Kennedy, a British millionaire, offers his services. He takes on the costs of the lawyers and the private investigators. It's even said that he goes to meet some of the witnesses. Does that have anything to do with the fact that afterwards most of them refused to go back and participate in a reconstruction? The atypical Virgin boss also puts his hand in his pocket. It is interesting to note that all this energy, all this money is essentially used to defend the suspects.

New DNA research is carried out by the forensic laboratories in Birmingham, contradicting the first evaluation. It is said that the samples that had been collected (by the Portuguese police) were allegedly mixed...

Commissary Gonçalo Amaral requests another other evaluation. Impossible, the English tell him, the samples have been destroyed, or lost, one doesn’t know exactly, by the laboratory. Amaral can't take any more. All of this noise, this permanent pressure from the hierarchy, from the political authorities, from the media, prevents him from working properly. He is scrutinised, criticised, spied upon... Even his British colleagues are creating difficulties. Exasperated, he lets go in the press. It is a mistake, because his superiors jump at the chance. He is transferred.

Gonçalo Amaral has written a book, "The Truth of the Lie," which is now published in Portugal. I bet there will be some interesting details in it. At least if it’s translated into French. Will the press, already scalded by this case, pick up on it? Not certain! The McCanns have clearly implied that their lawyers were ready to take action.

To go back to the DNA, in France, unless I am mistaken, 13 identical markers in 2 different DNA profiles are sufficient for the justice. So, if the events had taken place here, first of all the tests would not have been done in Great Britain, but in a French laboratory, and then the McCanns would have been placed under investigation and most certainly placed in preventive detention - and only the judge would have been able to decide on a second evaluation.

Which goes to show that scientific evidence, even the most sophisticated, doesn't depend on a mathematical formula, but on human judgment.

THE PARENTS’ BEHAVIOUR: One can’t help but to say that the behaviour of the McCanns compared to that of other parents placed in such a painful situation is... different. To begin with, they looked down on the Portuguese police officers. They lied on certain points and immediately looked for support from their country's authorities. As if they felt threatened! Were they caught up in the media machine? The support fund which they set up (and which can be found on Google's business pages) has collected around 1.5 million euros. However, one of the first expenses incurred by that fund was to make two monthly payments concerning the purchase of their house. It is said that 600,000 euros was paid out to settle the fees of private detectives, who mostly turned out to be crooks. One of them even stated that he had infiltrated a Belgian paedophile network... In their defence, they have guaranteed that they have not used that money to pay the fees of the lawyers who are covering their defence.

These people have mobilised around themselves so many people, so many beautiful people we might say, from politics to business... that we can only wonder. Are they part of a network? Of a lodge? Of a sect? Of a clan?...

THE STATE OF THE INVESTIGATION: The McCann couple not having requested the continuation of the investigation, it is officially finished. As things stand, there is a 4 year-old girl, probably dead; and three suspects who have been released. One of them, the neighbour, suspected because of his past, but against whom there seems to be no evidence; and the parents...

There is evidence that they lied since their first statements to the police, namely about how they spent their time, visibly conniving with their friends. They couldn't explain the presence of traces of blood or cadaver odour, particularly in the vehicle they had hired three weeks after the facts. Even if in law the second DNA evaluation negates the first, it is not entirely convincing. The experts are happy to conclude that they cannot use the gathered samples they were sent, because they were contaminated. And even if we consider that the two evaluations were contradictory, which one should we believe? The destruction of the samples makes any confirmation impossible.

And after this pandemonium, Maddie joins the long list of missing children.
CONCLUSION: Everyone can think what they like, but Portuguese law considers that there is no charge against anyone, not any proof, not any evidence. They have "archived" the case, as they say down there.

One can be astonished. But I believe it's a good way to start over in a more serene manner. In fact, nothing prevents the investigators from "discreetly" continuing their investigations. Portuguese procedure allows the reopening of the case at any moment, if someone brings a new element to it.

What is striking in this case, is that there is a lot of talk about money and very little about the young victim. Finally, one of the suspects received 750.000 € paid by certain newspapers to avoid action over defamation, and the other two, the parents, have collected 1.5 million euros in a support fund. Not to mention the money spent by wealthy patrons. As for the Portuguese police officers, they were ridiculed.

It must stick in their throats... I bet they are not ready to forget it.

source: Georges Moréas, POLICEtcetera

1 comment:

  1. Querida Joana,

    obrigada pela sua volta ao nosso Blog. Espero que voce esteja bem e que sua ausencia nao tenha sido por um fator negativo.
    Aqui vao nossa vibraçoes positivas para voce e sua equipe tao competente.
    Vamos continuar a lutar pela Justiça através do seu jornalismo.

    Um abraço do pessoal do Rio de Janeiro -Ministério Público e Maria


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