Oporto PJ goes through Madeleine McCann case with a fine toothed comb
- Special team joins the English people from Scotland Yard
- 2.2 million spent to investigate in the UK alone
by Nuno Miguel Maia and Óscar Queirós
Almost four years after being archived by the Public Ministry, the case of the disappearance of the little English girl Madeleine McCann in the Algarve is being re-analysed with a fine toothed comb. In Portugal, a team of investigators from the PJ [Judiciary Police] in Oporto has been chosen.
On the United Kingdom’s side, the Scotland Yard does not haggle the means to find out what happened to little Maddie, whose disappearance in 2007 was archived by the Portuguese Public Ministry in July of 2008. In 2011 alone, 2.2 million euros were spent. And the team comprises 37 people.
Nonetheless, the investigators concluded that nothing would be done without an articulation with Portugal. Therefore, a partnership was established with the PJ, that investigated the case during 14 consecutive months – first under the leadership of Gonçalo Amaral, at the PJ in Portimão; afterwards, under the leadership of the PJ’s former joint national director Paulo Rebelo.
This time, the PJ’s national directory chose to nominate a team that had nothing to do with the case to work on it. The choice fell on the Oporto PJ’s Regional Section for Criminal Investigation and Prevention, headed by chief coordinator Helena Monteiro.
This is a brigade that is experienced in disappearance cases. One example of success involved a girl from Lamego, Carina Ferreira, whose body was found in a highway ravine after one month of searches.
The goal is to search for leads to follow and to fill any gaps in the initial investigations, using a fresh look on the case.
“Although it was formally archived, we still have a disappearance without explanation. The archiving does not mean that the Judiciary Police is less interested in clarification and in searching for answers”, Pedro do Carmo, a joint national director, explains to JN.
According to information that was collected by JN, the English authorities have travelled to Portugal four times already. The investigators from Oporto have also recently been in Portimão.
Within the ongoing diligences – although the process has not been formally reopened by the Public Ministry – the possibility of the re-enactment of the circumstances that preceded Maddie’s disappearance, on the 3rd of May, 2007, in Praia da Luz, Lagos, is open.
This diligence was not carried out because – it should be recalled – the McCann couple and six of their friends refused to participate. “The British authorities’ interest values all of the work that was developed by the Portuguese police and questions the reason for a hasty and abrupt archiving. The material truth still has to be established”, Gonçalo Amaral, the first coordinator of the investigation, now retired, states to JN.
[Process in Detail]
May 3, 2007 Disappearance
Madeleine McCann, of three years old disappeared from the Ocean Club, Algarve, where she was allegedly sleeping with her twins siblings. The parents were dining with friends.
July 2008 Archival
The PJ were not able to find out what happened. The Attorney General Pinto Monteiro gave a deadline and the Public Ministry archived it. Robert Murat, Gerry e Kate McCann were arguidos.
May 2011 David Cameron orders the re-opening
The British Prime-Minister, David Cameron, ordered a new investigation, guaranteeing financial support. “Our main concern is and as always been Maddie's safe return”, explained a spokesperson.
February 2012 Investigation given to Oporto
Following a meeting of the Scotland Yard with the PJ's directorate, it was assigned to the section of investigation and criminal prevention of Oporto the task of liaison with the English in the re-analysis of the case elements.
3 Questions to // Pedro do Carmo
National joint director of the Judiciary Police explains to JN the Maddie Case
1 What is being done in the Madeleine case?
The English authorities constituted a team to re-analyse elements that are already known from the process. They came to Portugal and they have settled with the PJ. We are doing the same.
2 Why the Oporto PJ?
We want a more distanced look. The Oporto team is experienced in this kind of cases. They have investigated the case of a missing person in Lamego.
3 Does this mean that the case will be reopened?
The reopening requires new elements. Even if the [process] was archived, there is still a disappearance without explanation. However, that does not mean that there is less interest in searching for answers.
All the investigation re-evaluated//P.9
PJ from Oporto and Scotland Yard reopen the Maddie Case
- Police does not give up searching for new leads
in Jornal de Notícias, page 9, March 9, 2012, Online paid edition | Online version
Translations by Astro/JM © 2012 - for non-commercial use only