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Pedro do Carmo: "Maddie's parents are not suspects. Period."

In an interview with Expresso newspaper, the deputy director of the Judiciary Police, Pedro do Carmo, argues that no police in the world could guarantee results different from those obtained so far in Portugal in the case of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

"We had never had and did not have a similar case again"

By Hugo Franco

I's a ten year old mystery that still divides the public opinion and intrigues the Portuguese and English authorities that investigate the case. What happened to Madeleine Beth McCann, the 4-year-old English girl who disappeared from the Ocean Club apartment in Praia da luz (Lagos) on the night of May 3, 2007 - 10 years ago the next Wednesday? The Judiciary Police (PJ) has some suspicions and a certainty: it was not the parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, who harmed to the child born in Leicester.

In September 2007, the McCanns were constituted as arguidos by the the Portuguese Justice but in the following year the case was closed for lack of evidence. It was reopened by the PJ in 2013 and continues to be investigated simultaneously with Scotland Yard. To this day, however, despite hundreds of leads and sightings of Maddie, no one was charged or convicted and the girl, who would have been 14 years old, has never been found.

Until the process was archived in 2008, there were three lines of investigation by the Judiciary Police on the case. Hypothesis 1: the parents accidentally killed their daughter and then concealed the body. Hypothesis 2: Maddie was abducted by a group linked to the trafficking of minors and sold for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Hypothesis 3: The child was killed following an abduction that went wrong.

Did the reopening of the case in 2013 open up more investigative lines than the three that were followed at that time?

I cannot speak about the investigation. What I can say is that the PJ remains convinced that there are elements that can still be worked and that can lead to some results. If it is not possible to achieve this result, at least we want to get some answers to the many questions that the case generates. Ultimately, to get to a point where the PJ concludes that there is nothing more that can be done to answer those questions.

Did Scotland Yard's entry into action in the case back in 2011 delivered results?

Since they've also decided to open an investigation, the contacts between the PJ and Metropolitan Police have been regular. There has been a constant exchange of information, which has been positive. This exchange of information remains. It can even be said that the relationship between the two police forces is of great proximity and great collaboration.

The reconstruction of the night of May 3, 2007, as the PJ investigators initially intended, with the presence of the McCanns and their English friends at the scene (that never happened due to the group's lack of willingness to return to Praia da Luz) would it have been essential to better understand what happened to the English girl?

I do not want to talk about what happened up to 2008. This has been sufficiently debated at its appropriate place.

Any idea how many people were heard in total in this case?

No. But certainly several hundred people.

Ten years on after the events at Praia da Luz, why do you think the case is still so much debated?

First because there was a deliberate and legitimate effort on the part of the child's parents in keeping the issue on the agenda of the media. But there are also other elements, such as the circumstances of the disappearance. Ten years later we still do not know what happened, which makes it possible to say, at least in relation to Portugal, that this is a unique case. We had never had one, and we did not have a similar case again. There were other cases of disappearances of children where it was not possible to bring the perpetrators to justice. But in those cases we either caught someone or it was possible for the police to understand what had happened. In this case we are not yet in a position to say what is behind the disappearance. This makes it a unique case. And maybe an extremely rare case worldwide.

Do you hope to know the truth about what happened on the night of May 3, 2007 in Praia da Luz?

Of course that's what motivates us. It is that hope that keeps us working on the investigation.

As you said in a recent interview, the Maddie case is a thorn on the side of the Judiciary Police?

Although I have used this expression into the conversation, it is not the term 'thorn on the side'. It is in the DNA of the Judiciary Police to solve all the crimes that as a duty to investigate. Whenever this does not happen it is something that will not leave us, and can not leave us, satisfied. We are very demanding with our work. In this case, we are not satisfied and remain committed to resolve the case.

Is the PJ still learning from this case ten years on?

We like to learn from every case and we also want to learn from this one. But only after we know what has happened will we be able to draw conclusions from it: understand what we have done well and less well. And we have not yet reached that point. We want to learn lessons from it in its due time.

The English media again insinuates that Portugal continues to be a country that cannot solve a case of this dimension. But the British police have not done better. Can the English public opinion change since Scotland Yard has not been successful, either?

We are not insensitive to others' opinions but our responsibility and commitment is with our fellow citizens. The Portuguese have every reason to be proud and trust their Judiciary Police, which proves on a daily basis its capacity, effectiveness and competence. Difficult cases exist in all countries. The results sometimes take time to arrive and this is also true for all countries. Our expectation is that there is a capacity for everyone to understand that this is so. No police anywhere in the world could guarantee different results.

So would a case like this one have the same results today anywhere else in the world?

I would not say it would have the same results. I would say is that in a case like this one there would be no guarantee of having different results anywhere else in the world. No police in any part of the world could guarantee different results, up to this moment, from those the Judiciary has achieved.

Would the PJ have done something different today in this investigation?

That is a conclusion that we can only reach after the moment we know what has happened or have reached a point where it is not possible to do anything more to clarify the case. And we have not yet reached that point.

Do you think it was a mistake to have the McCann couple constituted as arguidos in September 2007?

Obviously, I will not answer that question. But what I can say, just as I did back in 2011 and 2013, is that Maddie's parents are not suspects. That statement remains: the parents are not suspects. Period.

in Expresso, May 2, 2017


  1. Oh really - so the McCanns are not suspects !
    All I can say to you Mr. do Carmo is Woof, woof.


    1. surely anyone who hasn't been cleared by the police is a suspect and they have not been cleared, not by the Portuguese judiciary nor by any UK police so yeah,woof woof.

  2. Legally he can't say something else, and obviously doesn't want to be asked about it, period.

  3. The evidence is clear. No abduction. Period.

  4. "Obviously, I will not answer that question. But what I can say, just as I did back in 2011 and 2013, is that Maddie's parents are not suspects. That statement remains: the parents are not suspects. Period."

    He is right! The parents are not suspects! The dogs are!

    Now seriously IMO Pedro do Carmo had to be careful not to give any ammunition to the McCanns when they take Portugal to the ECtHR on the basis of what they considered a "frivolous" decision of the Portuguese Supreme Court that ended up exonerating their scapegoat - after years of prohibitively expensive legal entrapments.

    On the other hand, since the McCanns are no longer "arguidos" anyone who stated otherwise (particularly someone in his position) would be asking for trouble. He did say: "Obviously I cannot answer that question" (smiles)

    Anyone with a basic grasp of Symbolic Logic will know what he meant ...

  5. I believe and so do many in Portugal that the parents are the suspects - too much sleep medication which killed her


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