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"Maddie", from the absolute mystery to a documentary fever

By Cynthia de Benito

No one knows, everyone speculates. Twelve years after the British girl Madeleine McCann vanished in the south of Portugal, the case resurrects for the umpteenth time in several documentaries that, in the absence of answers, obsessively review the unknown factors of the most mediatic disappearance in the world.

Up to three productions pile up in front of the viewer, ready to remind him what happened on May 3, 2007: "The disappearance of Madeleine McCann", which is broadcast on DKISS this Friday; another series of the same title available on the Netflix platform and "Madeleine McCann: an ID Murder Mystery", by Discovery.

The veiled premise of the three is identical: something was lost along the path of the tortuous investigation, first exclusively Portuguese and then with British help; the collaboration would degenerate in accusations and distrust and even in the removal of the coordinator of the case, the controversial Gonçalo Amaral.

Amaral put in the spotlight the parents, Kate and Gerry, who came to be considered "arguidos" (a Portuguese figure that amounts to being formally investigated), with indicia that were never demonstrated.

He ended up being fired1, but not discredited among many Portuguese, who still believe that there's something fishy in those surrounding the little girl, who was three years-old when she disappeared.

The documentaries dive into the doubts surrounding the parents and their friends, who dined together in a restaurant on the night of the disappearance and had said they took turns to monitor their respective children, who slept, and into the other great theory, which points to the girl being abducted by a paedophile ring.

It is a crude summary derived from what was collected in the 12,000 pages2 that generated the "Maddie" case, in addition to 2,000 police inquiries, 500 searches in the area and almost twenty suspects.

No conclusive proof.

It's a fertile ground for the multiplication of theories that serve as a mother lode to the documentary fever: two hours of analysis in DKISS's bet, another two hours in the Discovery one, and up to eight hours of observations in the case of Netflix. All supported in suppositions.

"Proof does not exist, but there are indications," admits Francisco Moita Flores to EFE, a former investigator of the Portuguese Judiciary Police, today retired, who has studied all the documentation of the case and speaks in the feature film of DKISS.

Moita Flores defends the Portuguese thesis, which argues that the answer lies within those close to the child, for the "contradictions" he says he found in the statements to the police of the friends who dined with Kate and Gerry McCann.

"They are lying, you just have to read the statements, there are no two statements alike, and there are some that are contradictory," he assures.

His bet to clarify this is to do a reconstruction of that night, something that was never done. It is unclear why, he added before criticizing the British police.

This is the other indelible mark left by Madeleine McCann, a confrontation between police forces that are currently pursuing the case separately: Scotland Yard, with a budget that is periodically extended with great publicity, and a team of police officers in Oporto who review the untied details with enormous discretion.

Each group maintains its idea and does not let go: those close to the little girl or an international paedophile group.

The Portuguese officers do not forget the treatment given to them by the British tabloids, who even counted up the time it took for Amaral to have lunch to dub him lazy.

Neglectful and unattentive and other accusations were made to the police in the Algarve, who in turn claim that there was a conspiracy from the UK to protect the McCanns and therefore the evidence that was sent to a British laboratory for analysis - and pointing that the girl had died in the apartment where she slept that night - turned out to not be conclusive.

"From the beginning there is a very active solidarity of the English Government with that couple, for reasons that we do not know, because it is not normal that when one of these things happens for ministers to speak up," recalls Moita Flores.

The hypotheses are diluted in these confrontations, which even overshadow the question: What happened to Madeleine McCann?

Several people claimed to have seen the child, sometimes on several continents on the same day, it was never possible to substantiate those claims.

How did she disappear? The bedroom where she slept with her siblings, the twins Amelie and Sean, just babies, had a window by which the abductor was alleged to have left carrying her, but there is not a single footprint, and some police officers point out how strange that a paedophile ring did not take the three children.

Is Maddie alive?

in La Vanguardia/EFE May 2, 2019 (Spanish)

Translation notes
1 - Gonçalo Amaral asked for early retirement from the Judiciary Police, as explained in the forward of his book Maddie, The Truth of the Lie: "Certainly, this book responds to the need I felt to defend myself, having been discredited by the institution for which I worked for more than twenty-six years, without being given any chance to explain myself, publicly or within the institution itself. I made the request several times, but it was never heard. I, therefore, scrupulously respected the rules of the Judiciary Police and I refrained from making any comment. But this goes without saying: I experienced that silence to which I was constrained as an attack on my dignity. Later, I was removed from the investigation. It was then that I understood that it was time to speak up. To do that, I requested early retirement in order to be able to express myself freely."
2 - The Portuguese Judiciary Police case files.

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