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British police want to question three suspects in the Algarve

DN 29 Jan 2014 photo McCanns holding red carnations offered by PJGA members, symbols of freedom of expression and liberty, of a fight against an oppressive dictatorial regime, of the 25th of April 1974 - Carnation Revolution in Portugal
Four investigators were gathered with senior Polícia Judiciária (PJ) officers in the Algarve to work on the details of the investigation. British newspapers believe in arrests.

by Valentina Marcelino and Paula Carmo

Four Scotland Yard investigators were gathered yesterday with senior Polícia Judiciária (PJ) officers in the Algarve to work on the details of a further step of the investigation into Madeleine McCann's disappearance. The visit of the English police officers to Portugal comes following a request for judicial assistance from the British authorities to question three suspects, who at the time of the disappearance of the girl, in 2007, were referenced in burglaries in the Praia da Luz area.

A source from the PJ's Directorate confirmed to the DN [Diário de Notícias acronym] the presence of elements from the Metropolitan Police at the Judiciary Police headquarters of Faro, but did not disclose further details. At the meeting was also present Luís Mota Carmo, the head of the PJ directorate of Faro, who listened to the justifications of the English that lead to the suspicions about those three individuals. Until the closing of this edition no conclusions were yet known, namely of when and where will the suspects be heard.

In accordance to the rules of judicial cooperation agreements, a foreign police cannot investigate in the national territory. For example, in case the questioning is performed, it will always be the PJ inspectors leading it, albeit with the British watching. The questions were already sent in detail in the letter rogatory and intend to learn from the suspects the reasons of them being in that area, at that time and that day. This new investigative line, that is being attempted by the British authorities, emerged after they cross-referenced phone records made at the time of the disappearance of the child, in that area, which led to new suspects.

According to what was reported in recent days by the English newspapers, the visit of the British investigators has as goal “to make the first arrests” since Scotland Yard decided to re-analyse the case in 2011, referred to as Operation Grange. The push for this decision has been assumed by the team leader, DCI Andy Redwood, who has already expressed his belief that “Maddie” could be alive.

This time the targets are, and still according to the British press, three men, authors of several burglaries in the area of Praia da Luz. The phone traffic data shows that these suspects did “numerous phone calls to each other” in the time period in which Madeleine was reported as missing from the apartment where she was holidaying with her parents and siblings. The Metropolitan Police was “eager” to question these burglars and went to Portugal with the goal of making the first arrests, reported the Daily Mirror last Friday.

All the traffic data that was analysed thoroughly by the British police had also been scrutinized by the PJ during the investigation that was later archived in 2008. Although it was not possible to obtain, up to now, information from the PJ about whether the three suspects had already been heard in that initial investigation, as a rule of thumb, the Attorney General's Office (PGR) only gives positive response to letters rogatory when the steps requested by foreign authorities were not carried out during another investigation. In other words, the acceptance of the English request could mean that these three suspected robbers who were referenced as being close to the crime scene were never heard by the Judiciary Police.

Clarence Mitchell, the spokesman of the couple Kate and Gerry McCann told the Daily Mirror yesterday that the acceptance of the letter rogatory by the PGR represents a significant development and that “It is necessary for British police to request the Portuguese authorities allow them to operate on their turf. It means they have the intention of arresting and interviewing X, Y or Z”. The spokesman of Madeleine's parents added “Whether the Portuguese will co-operate remains to be seen. It is a very sensitive issue with differences they have had.”.

In August last year, the PJ was also mandated by the Public Ministry, to comply with another letter rogatory, with a wide set of steps that resulted from Operation Granger. At the time, the British police had announced the identification of 41 suspects, 12 of them British nationals. These were also referenced through the analysis of traffic data. Apart from Portugal, Scotland Yard submitted letters rogatory to thirty other countries, most of them European countries. All these steps have a practical purpose for the English: to scrutinize all hypotheses until exhaustion so that, in case suspicions are not confirmed, any conclusion will be fully supported.


How can a foreign police make an investigation in Portugal? They cannot. Therefore, as in this case, the authorities of the countries who want any type of investigative step to be pursued in another State must submit a request expressed in the designated letter rogatory, asking for the intended judicial assistance.

Who executes the request for judicial assistance of a foreign police? Letters rogatory are addressed to the Attorney General's Office (PGR), which analyses them and then decides on their admissibility. Once accepted, the Attorney General's Office sends them to the court in the area where the requested steps will be carried out. Then it is up to prosecutors of the Public Ministry to appoint which police authority will perform them, almost always the Judiciary Police, since most crimes subject to letters rogatory pertain to the investigative field that is the area of competence of that police force.

What if the requested investigation steps have already been carried out in other investigations made in that country? The investigative steps that are required to be accepted by the Attorney General's Office cannot have taken place under the scope of other investigations. When, for example, a search is requested for a specific place or when it is requested that a suspect is questioned which in the view of the requesting authority may have an important testimony to the resolution of a case, and those steps have to be done for the first time.

Can foreign police officers question or arrest suspects or make searches in Portugal? Not in any way. The entire execution of the investigative steps requested in letters rogatory must be the responsibility of the national criminal police force in the country of destination. In this case, in the application for judicial assistance that was sent to the PGR, where the Scotland Yard asks for three suspects to be questioned, it will be the PJ inspectors that will lead that questioning. The questions have to come previously outlined in the letter rogatory. The English police officers may attend the session but they cannot intervene.

in Diário de Notícias (paper edition), January 29, 2014


TVI, broadcast on 29 Jan. 2014

Marisa Rodrigues (Voice Over) - The images captured by a British newspaper show four Scotland Yard detectives in Faro for another meeting at the Polícia Judiciária. On the table, the next steps of the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, a set of steps defined jointly with the heads of the PJ Directorate of Faro and of the Criminal Investigation Department of Portimão. A meeting that takes place following a letter rogatory for a number of investigative steps requested by the English detectives. The most urgent, to question three men that worked in the Ocean Club, in Praia da Luz at the time when the girl disappeared. The British investigation classifies the men as 'people of interest' because they made a high and abnormal number of phone calls on the night of May 3, 2007. It is also requested that searches are made and bank statements analysed. The British press writes that the detectives believe that Madeleine is alive and want to make arrests, however arrest warrants weren't issued and the PJ does not give any explanations.

Marisa Rodrigues - It is not the first time that a meeting similar to this one takes place, the English authorities request them frequently and the PJ accepts them. It is not yet certain that the British detectives will come to the Algarve to accompany the investigative steps, no request was made in that regard to the National Directorate of the Judiciary Police. The image is by Marcos Soares Pereira, Marisa Rodrigues, TVI.


  1. So the 3 burglars turn out to be Ocean Club workers and contrary to what we have been told by the English media there are no imminent arrests. This could simply be a case of 3 people who searched for the girl that night; they spread out in their search and maintained contact with each other via phone. Of course the bank accounts of the abductors must be checked to see how much they received for selling Madeleine.

    I think what is going on is that Scotland Yard is grasping at anything that will enable them to request the Portuguese police to take some sort of action and the British media in conjunction makes it out to be more than it really is. Of course all this is occurring at a very inconvenient time for Mr. Amaral.

  2. @Guerra: "all this is occurring at a very inconvenient time for Mr. Amaral"

    To be sure, the timing of everything that has been in the news recently is very inconvenient. I know nothing about the Portuguese legal system but it seems to me that the judge in the libel case is handling all of of these distractions really well. It's pretty obvious that the various "revelations" and breaking news stories about "imminent arrests" etc are just spin and are happening with the intention of distracting from or influencing the court's decision. It seems to me that the judge is deliberately delaying the process to allow all of this bullshit to settle down. Once that happens, she can make a considered and impartial decision. And I hope (along with many others) that the result will be favourable to Gonçalo Amaral.

  3. Personally what I believe we are witnessing is the attempt to get the case closed and whitewashed leading to the Innocence of the McCann's and thus leading to a victory with the libel trial - kill two birds with one stone approach.

    The British Government have in my opinion tasked Scotland Yard with the above - the problem I feel is that the Portuglal PJ are refusing to be corrupted.

    I believe the Portugal Government are willing to help the UK achieve their goal but are been hampered by the internal politics with the PJ - thus setting up a police team from out of town from where the crime was committed. they expect this police team to work against their previous colleagues work - and join forces with Scotland Yard in the cover up.

    If they can get the PJ onside in this new investigation direction then ultimately it will become easier for the judge in the libel case to rule against Goncalo Amaral.. knowing that her own country's PJ are working in a direction that would nullify the books conclusion.
    It will allow her the judge to pass a verdict in favour of the McCann's without going against her own country.


  4. This is becoming a circus , the Portuguese Police should charge the mccanns with neglect as people the world over knows this is fact . Once the horrible pair of liars are in custody together with their friends the "tapas lot" and the McCann spokesman , a lot of squealing will take place and the truth revealed . They know what happened and are taking the people of the world as fools . Which parent has created a "fund" and hired a professional liar (spin doctor) when their child went missing? which parent would leave others to look for their child while they sit on the beach? which parent would be seen grinning like a pair of clowns 9 days after their child went missing? This case STINKS to high heaven and that's fact . Its about time charges of neglect are brought forward , Dr Amaral is a straight Police officer and had it not been for his book no one would be the wiser . The story of "burglars" could be a lead to possible eye witnesses against this pair of "responsible" parents . Its a shame its costing the tax payers all this money for a case where the average person with enough common sense knows the parents aren't exactly innocent as they portray themselves to be .

  5. No surprise really that this farce is gathering speed towards the outcome of the trial. As usual, they will look anywhere but not at the work of the dogs in that holiday apartment, nor the hire car, nor those closest to Madeleine who had access to the apartment and knew the children were alone that night. FARCE INDEED!

  6. what great publicity for the portugal tourist industry.. i never knew what great attractions there were in portugal and what a wonderful break from everyday work routine until i read that it was the favourite place where 20 times in the past 18 months it is the attraction that british police have chosen for a well earned fully paid break from work

  7. @4 Totaly agree with you, BUT for some reason Portugal appears to be protecting the McCanns or they would have been charged long ago an a honorable and proffessional Portuguese police man would not have been treated so badly by his own country
    Letter from Iberia

  8. Thanks

    This conversation can be viewed on several levels. The British Press obsession with PC plod stumping all over Portuguese soil and at will interviewing and arresting ''suspects'' As this blog has EXPLAINED CLEARLY AND FULLY that is not an option. Neither was it an option in the days when the Portuguese officers attended the rogatory interviews in the UK. The Portuguese officers were passive bystanders and ''watched'' their questions being asked of the witnesses. Most of us who have followed the case know the lengthy legal process all this became just to get the witnesses present with acceptable protocol. And they were supposed to be PROACTIVE if furthering the cause of their friends missing child. The McCanns, as arguidos did not participate.

    Then we come to the whole meaning of the UK's MET's investigation of three alleged burglars & their mobile phone traffic. OK perhaps they were operative and caused a mini crimewave - later to spend time recapitulating their deeds. But why would they take a child? Were there any other break ins that night, in and around the immediate area? Why would one of them ON FOOT take the child, if this ties in with the sighting of the Smith family.

    As we ponder the consequences, is it merely a process of putting together as many people possible in the time frame who SAW NOTHING? (nothing seen, nothing happened.

    But if really there is a prospect, as the media supposes that Madeleine is an alive captive, WHY IN GOD's name is there all this DITHERING that could lead to her disposal!!

  9. no letter from Iberia its not the Portuguese Police its our ex prime minister Mr Brown who meddled and helped the Mccanns scarper, flee , make it away on their toes, on easy jet back to the UK . If Dr Amaral was not taken off the case this horrible lot would be in a cage with bars where they belong .

  10. The headline reads "British newspapers believe in arrests". A very accurate summary in my opinion. Those who believe what the newspapers print will also believe. Others will take the information as confirmation that there will be no arrests. This case truly is trial by media.

  11. They should start with the Mccanns they need to be arrested and made to answer the original questions put to them in the original investigation which the mother chose not to answer . They should have been charged years ago with neglect , the world knows this . Spin doctors , professional liars and micky mouse can not persuade the public to abandon common sense . Very few people believe the News these days anyway .


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