Looking back on the Maddie case: "The PJ is forced to investigate abduction lead"
While doing some research on the Madeleine McCann case, I came across an old article from Correio da Manhã, dated August 12, 2007. It reminded me not only of the recent Wikileaks news, but especially of an even more recent quote from an interview that Clarence Mitchell gave to Peter Levy, on BBC Radio Humberside:
“And yes, you're right, there was a lot of criticism at different times and a lot of leaked rubbish, frankly, that came out in the Portuguese press and was then repeated without any attempt to check it in the British media and then recycled a third time into... back into Portugal.”
An idea that Mr Mitchell repeated in another interview, this time with Stephen Nolan, on BBC Radio 5live:
“And, of course, what makes it all the more frustrating for them was that they knew that much of the coverage was based on either falsehoods, misunderstandings, deliberate leaks from certain quarters, that were then mistranslated, either through mistake or through deliberately. A story that would appear on a Monday in Portugal, saying something was possibly the case - which we knew wasn't true - would then become hardened up as fact on the Tuesday in the British press and then, on Wednesday, it would be repeated, 'as reported by the illustrious London paper X or Y'.”
Mistranslations aside, here’s the article that brought back some old memories - linked to some not-so-old knowledge about the case's backdrop:
The PJ is forced to investigate abduction lead
Alípio Ribeiro, the Polícia Judiciária’s national director, received a telephone call from John Buck, the British ambassador in Portugal, on the night that Madeleine disappeared from the Ocean Club, on the 3rd of May
by José Carlos Marques / P. M.
At around 11 p.m., approximately two hours after the child’s disappearance was communicated, Alípio Ribeiro had to interrupt a private dinner in order to listen to the diplomat. The phone call was the first sign that the English were very interested in following the PJ’s action closely and to push the investigations into the direction of an abduction.
“The PJ lost too much time investigating the abduction”, a source linked to the investigation told Correio da Manhã. The English diplomacy’s pressure only relented when British police officers arrived in Portugal and supported the redirecting of the investigation towards the hypothesis of homicide. The biological traces that were found inside the apartment were decisive in changing the inquiry’s route, or at least, for the PJ to publicly admit to that change.
The decision to deepen the possibility of the child’s death at the Ocean Club – and the consequent reevaluation of Maddie’s parents’ statements, as well as their friends’ – was made while considering the English police officers’ opinion. The interview that Olegário Sousa – the Judiciária’s chief inspector who has been serving as the police’s spokesman in this case – gave to BBC and ITN televisions yesterday was planned with these agents.
The choice of these two television channels was motivated by the indignation that the English police officers in the Algarve felt themselves, concerning the accusations that have been made against the PJ by the British press. BBC and ITN have been covering the case with more coldness and impartiality, which is the reason why they were given privileged access to the interview.
This was the first time that Olegário Sousa publicly admitted the possibility of Madeleine being dead. A position that places the McCanns in the centre of the investigation, a situation that has been handled ‘with tweezers’ by the Portuguese police.
in: Correio da Manhã, 12.08.2007