Friday, 7 August 2009

19 Madeleine McCann: L'Enquête Interdite - The Truth of The Lie - Chapter 19


In Portugal, the criminal process is comprised of three phases: the investigation, the instruction and the trial. Under the direction and control of the Public Minister, the investigation is led by the criminal police, who enjoy total practical and tactical independence. The police officers may make a declaration of arguido status as they think fit. This status confers on a suspect a set of rights and responsibilities. One of the fundamental principles of our code of criminal procedure is that of non-self-incrimination: it is illegal for information given by a witness to later be used against him and to implicate him in a crime. The right of silence, therefore, allows him to avoid giving incriminating details. But the status heaps opprobrium on those who become arguido, in spite of the principle of presumption of innocence.

With due regard to procedural regulations and faced with evidence of the concealment of a corpse and simulation of an abduction - partially confirmed by laboratory analyses -, we decide to question the McCanns before their imminent return to England. This decision is taken with full knowledge of the facts by the investigators, the Public Minister and the Director of the Judiciary Police. (PJ)

On September 3rd, the police officer Ricardo Paiva, responsible for relations with the couple, goes to their residence to inform them of the date and time of the interview. Kate reacts quite badly: she is worried about what her parents are going to think and about the reaction of the press. She even states that the Portuguese police, "is submitting to pressure on the part of its government to resolve the case as soon as possible." English and Portuguese investigators actively prepare the interviews and draw up a list of questions focusing particularly on the course of events on the night of the disappearance. The suspects must clarify for us the various contradictions raised in the course of their previous statements.


The decision to declare Kate and Gerald McCann
arguidos was taken. Notification had already reached them. On September 6th, a little before 3pm, Kate arrives at the DIC in Portimão, accompanied by her press officer. Her lawyer has already arrived and the interview room is ready. The crowd has been building up outside for a while. Going through the door, Kate laughs as she says that this media scrum is good for tourism.

Her lawyer requests that she be heard as a witness and not interrogated as an arguida. We don't agree with what, to us, constitutes a backward step. Some officers involved in the investigation seem to be hoping for the miracle of a confession. We remain skeptical.

We finally decide to question her as a witness, but not to pose questions on the events after 5.30pm, the time at which she returned to the apartment with her three children. From that time on, everything she said could be held against her. According to the principle of non-incrimination, she would then have to be declared arguida since we have sufficient evidence to be able to do that.

On the subject of the press officer who was accompanying her everywhere, including to the police station, the opinion was unanimous: she had nothing to do with anything here.

- I have never heard of the role of the press officer in the penal code!...Perhaps it's the subject of the next amendment, or else it's a new method.

- Drop it. She is only going to sit near the police officers on duty and wait.

Her presence in the offices of the police during the interrogations seems unacceptable to me, useless and prejudicial to the investigation. However, she was to stay there from start to finish.

At 8 o'clock, we have a break to have something to eat, then the interrogation continues until 11pm. At the end of that day, we have learned nothing new with the exception of two details: Kate now remembers - five months after the event - that on the evening of May 3rd, Gerald was wearing jeans and trainers. Another detail came back to her: the time that David Payne had spent at her apartment. Gerald had spoken of 30 minutes, Kate now insists that he was only there for 30 seconds. We have never understood why it was so important to minimise this period of time. When Kate leaves the premises, we make sure that all necessary precautions have been taken to ensure her safety.


On September 7th at 11am, Kate Healy is declared an
arguida on the basis of strong presumptions of the crime of concealing a body and simulating an abduction. She states her name and gives her address as her home in Great Britain. Taking advantage of the right accorded to her by her status, she remains silent and does not answer questions concerning the circumstances of her daughter's death, on May 3rd 2007, in the Ocean Club apartment.

At 4pm, it's Gerald's turn to be officially declared an arguido, for the same reasons. In contrast to his wife, he seems disposed to answer questions. He begins by vehemently denying any responsibility whatsoever in his daughter's disappearance. As far as the time that David Payne spent with Kate and her children is concerned, he now says that the 30 minutes represents the total time that it took David Payne, after having left Gerry on the court at 6.30pm, to drop in and see Kate, go to his apartment to get changed and get back dressed to play tennis. But the court was reserved from 6 to 7pm. Why did David go back at 7pm, ready to play, when he knew there wasn't time?


Questioned about the twins, who on the night of the tragedy, stayed deeply asleep in spite of the comings and goings, the shouts and the arrival of the police, Gerald admits having been astonished himself that they did not wake up in the middle of such a racket. To begin with, he even thought that the children had been drugged - by the abductor, you understand -, but he only spoke to the police about it later.

From the start, the way the children slept had seemed suspicious to us and we wanted to have screening tests carried out: nevertheless, faced with the media coverage of the case, we had put this off, worried about exposing the parents to trial by the public. This was a mistake.

It is only three months later that Kate speaks about this possibility, suggesting that the police proceed with these tests. The National Institute of Forensic Medicine let's us know that before proceeding with this screening, they would need to know what type of sedative they were looking for. There are hundreds of them on the market. While the grandfather stated on television that Kate gave Calpol to the children to get them to sleep, several months have gone by since May 3rd. Kate, who is a doctor, must be aware that the time for obtaining convincing results has largely passed.

It is known that the sudden withdrawal of sedatives can cause sleep problems. If Kate's journal is to be believed, the twins suffered from problems of that nature during the days following their sister's disappearance.

Madeleine McCann: The Truth of The Lie Chapter 20


The McCann couple return to Great Britain after more than four months spent in the Algarve. It's an almost triumphant return. The media coverage is such that you'd think you were witnessing the liberation of hostages held for years in a far-off country. Gerald McCann is shown on television carrying his son, as he descends from the plane. The child's head is against Gerald's left shoulder and his arms dangling by his sides. Gerald walks across the tarmac, still holding his son closely against himself.

In Ireland, the Smiths are watching the BBC news, which is broadcasting the event. For them, it's a shock: that person, they recognise him. That way of carrying his child, that way of walking...It's the man they saw at around 10pm on May 3rd, with a little girl, who seemed to be deeply asleep, in his arms.

This image, brings back with a jolt, that of the man they encountered in the streets of Vila da Luz, on the evening of Madeleine's disappearance. It's as if the scene is repeating itself ....Mr Smith thinking he's hallucinating, sees the same report on other channels, ITV and Sky News. From that moment, he is sure: the man they came across that night was Gerald McCann. Of that there is very little doubt. Upset by the implications of this discovery, he alerts the police and waits to be called back by those in charge of the investigation.

When we receive this information, at the end of September, we think we finally have the piece that will allow us to complete the puzzle. Because of this, we may be able to reconstruct the course of events on that cold night of May 3rd in Vila da Luz. We have a better understanding of why Jane Tanner, "sent," the alleged abductor in the opposite direction to that taken by the man seen by the Smith family. Suspicion had to be diverted from Gerald who - if he was the guilty party - would have taken this route: leaving apartment 5A, the individual who was carrying the child, did not go east, towards Murat's house, but west in the direction of the beach.

We decide to get the Smiths back to the Algarve, for a formal identification of Gerry McCann - by means of televised images, certainly - direct confrontation being impossible - and possibly proceed to a reconstruction of the events of the night of May 3rd. The National Director of the Judiciary police agrees, the process is set in motion, all the details are sorted out; all that remains is to choose the hotel where they will be put up. But the Smiths were never to come back to Portugal. After my departure, the PJ were to change their minds. They asked the Irish police to proceed with interviewing the witness. That decision was to seriously delay the process since the Smiths were not interviewed until several months later. Meanwhile, rumours were to circulate and people not involved with the investigation would be made aware of the existence of this witness; someone allegedly even sought out contact with the family, without its being known to what end.

Madeleine McCann: L'Enquête Interdite - The Truth of The Lie - Chapter 21


From The Portuguese Marquis of Pombal to Lord Chatam of The British Government (1759)
It is time to end it. If my predecessors were spineless enough to grant you everything you wanted, I will never accord to you any more than I owe you . This is my final decision and you will have to get used to it.

Manuel João Paulo Rocha, official and author born in Estombar on June 24th 1856, relates in his work "Monografia de Lagos - As Forcas Militares de Lagos nas Guerras da Restauracao e Peninsular e nas pugnas pela liberdade," (Lagos Monograph - Military forces in the restoration and peninsular wars and in the struggle for freedom.) how a minister of the realm valiantly defended the interests of his country against foreign powers. This involved naval battles between an English fleet and a few French naval ships in Portuguese territorial waters between Lagos and the Cape of St Vincent (which in 1759 included the area of Vila da Luz). The Portuguese government, considering this affront an attack on its sovereignty, had immediately demanded explanations from the British government.

The attitude of those in power at that time contrasts with our present leadership. Nowadays, relations between independent and sovereign states must respect standards of democracy, which weren't in force at that time. Besides, Portugal and Great Britain are now members of the European Union and have participated in the development of a constitutional treaty. The firing of the head of a criminal investigation is just a minor event in relations between nations: the man is a simple official who has to submit to the decisions of his superiors. This is no reason for hiding the grounds for this dismissal and its damaging effects on the progress of the investigation. This untimely removal seems to have been decided not because of incompetence, but for one moment of carelessness.


From the beginning, the parents - perhaps because they doubted the competence of the Portuguese police - were set on having Leicestershire police - and not Scotland Yard - involved in the investigation. It is important to stress that the professionalism of the English police is not in question; actually a bonus for the investigation, their intervention on the ground did not conflict in any way with Portuguese national sovereignty. On the contrary, it lies within the framework of international cooperation between police forces. Faced with the globalisation of crime, that cooperation becomes essential. Portugal already works actively with other countries, whether at the level of justice, of the Public Ministry, of the juiciary police or the whole spectrum of police services. In the Algarve for example, every year, dozens even thousands of rogatory commissions, border controls, various transmissions of information are affected. Between May and September, the judiciary police - through the intermediary of the Portimão DIC, however tied up they were with the Madeleine case - actively collaborated with Spanish, English and French police forces on various cases (international trafficking of narcotics and money laundering, fraud, seizure of hundreds of kilos of cocaine) and affected a good many arrests. We are well aware of what international cooperation between police forces is about. It is based on reciprocity, trust and respect, especially when the investigation is led jointly by two countries, with foreign investigators on the ground.

During the couple's interrogation, at the beginning of September, the two police forces defined a common strategy: to go foward with the search for evidence concerning the crimes of concealment of a corpse and simulation of abduction; actively pursue investigations to find the body; get to the bottom of the causes of death. We realised very quickly that it was not going to be like that. After the interrogations and the McCanns' return to England, the British police lost interest in the case, giving the impression that their work was finished. We were left to pursue the investigation alone. It would seem that the reasons for their presence in our country were linked more to the McCann couple than to Madeleine. The child disappeared in Portugal, not in Great Britain. For what reasons did they depart immediately after the McCanns? A very hard, yet crucial question to answer.


After the Moroccan lead fizzled out, new elements to the investigation, sometimes brought by the McCanns themselves, continued to feed the theory of abduction, while the British police knew perfectly well we needed to be looking for a body.

On the last weekend in September, I decide to leave Portimão to go to my virtually abandoned house in the Algarvian east. Inès, my four-year-old daughter, goes with me. She loves the countryside, being in touch with nature. If she is asked which she prefers, living with her grand-parents in Faro or with her mother in Portimão, the answer is immediate: with my daddy. Not so much because of her father as attachment to the house where she was born. Here we are then, on the way to her paradise. We stop on the way to eat, and arrive at our destination late in the evening. After finding her toys, she falls asleep very quickly in her canopied bed. The sun is barely up when she is already about, ready to visit our neighbours, a retired couple who have found a peaceful refuge here. Throughout the day, she goes back knocking on their door, even when they are out. She spends Saturday steeped in her own world and her games.

For my part, I stay in touch with the DIC in Portmão and the investigators in charge of the case. I listen to the news when, once again - things being as they are, this is becoming the norm - I am speechless: a member of the McCanns' staff states that they are in possession of a report that invalidates the work of the EVRD and the CSI dogs: the absence of a body supposedly does not allow the results to be confirmed. Would that be the report from the experts at FSS? How did the McCanns get access to that confidential information? This is hardly reassuring and risks compromising the progress of the investigation.

This statement makes us think of the challenge thrown at the Portuguese police, "Find the body and prove that Madeleine is dead," to which we could have replied with, "Show us Madeleine and prove that she is not dead."

During the night of Saturday into Sunday, our dog does not stop barking. I go out but I see nothing and nobody that could get him so worked up. He then howls by the door. I don't know what's going on, but being on my own with Inès, I decide to stay close to her indoors and not let my anxiety show. The next day, I still don't understand what could have upset the dog so much. Inès, anxious, wants at all costs to see the neighbours, but they haven't returned.

On Monday August 1st, I go back to work at DIC in Portimão, where two pieces of news are waiting for me: officials at Buckingham Palace have received an email informing them that a little girl - Madeleine - has disappeared from a hotel complex Lisbon! The second was brought to us by an English tourist - Kate - on holiday in Praia da Luz: she allegedly saw a stranger hanging about near the Baptista supermarket in the vicinity of the Ocean Club.

This is where we're at: reduced to receiving that type of tip-off and chasing a phantom, that of the imaginary abductor. This Monday gets off to a bad start, with its load of irritation and preoccupations.


In the evening, while driving, I receive an unidentified phone call, the last straw...A journalist asks me if I want to comment on the subject of the email. Whether due to the difficult day, the raging storm or the fact of driving through rain...I lose my cool. I reply, irritably, without thinking, that the message is of no interest and that it would be better for the English police to occupy themselves with the Portuguese investigation. Even as I am hanging up, I realise that I have not only made a blunder, but I have been unfair towards the majority of the British police who have helped us throughout these difficult months. I drive on, certain that I have triggered a diplomatic incident with predictable consequences: as soon as these simple words are made public, I risk not being able to continue to direct the Portimão Department of Criminal Investigation.

At last, I get home. It's when I visit my neighbours that I finally understand the reason for my dog's agitation the previous night. Their house has been burgled. The thieves left behind lots of valuable objects but snatched a briefcase containing personal documents. Deep down, I can't help thinking that perhaps they mistook their target.

The next morning, the storm and the rain have still not let up. A bad sign...Accompanied by Guilhermino Encarnação, I have to go to Huelva, in Spain, to attend the commemorative ceremonies for national police day. Before meeting up with him, I see on the front page of the newspaper the phrase I came out with the night before, transformed into a long interview. When I meet Guilhermino, I let him know about my outburst. He immediately tries to contact the national director to explain to him what happened, but can't get hold of him.

We arrive at Huelva Cathedral in time to hear the homily from the bishop of the diocese, dedicated to - this is no coincidence - the role of the police and the protection of children. A choir starts singing Charles Gounod's Ave Maria. Finally a moment of respite in the middle of the storm raging outside. We then go on to the Iberian-American Forum at La Rabida, close to the convent of the same name. It is in this monastry that Christopher Columbus stayed, waiting for financial backing from the Catholic Queen Isabelle before undertaking his voyage of discovery to the New World.

On the way, Guilhermino receives a phone call from the public prosecutor, from then on responsible for the direction of the investigation. Having taken part the night before in a broadcast by a British television channel, where he was questioned about the lack of professionalism by the Portuguese police, he is calling to assure us of his support. Knowing our work pretty well, he is outraged by the injustice of such words and hints that, much to the contrary, we would deserve praise and thanks.


At the Forum, where we attend the ceremony presided over by the government representative for the province of Huelva, I meet some friends and acquintances. It is shortly after 2pm, in the middle of lunch, that I receive the news. The National Director has sent a fax to the Portimão DIC: in it, he stipulates the end of my assignment and requests my return to Faro. Today, October 2nd, is my 48th birthday; this is not the present I wanted, but one that I was expecting. Basically, this brings to an end a campaign of defamation and insults that I have been the target of since the start of the case, the whole thing orchestrated and amplified by the British media. The strategy is simple: call into question the investigation and those who lead it and, at the same time, present Portugal as a Third-World country with a legal system and police force worthy of the Middle Ages.

According to a British correspondent, the Prime Minister personally called Stuart Prior to ask for confirmation of my dismissal. Why would the head of the British government be interested in a lowly Portuguese official? We refuse to believe the rumours going around, according to which the signing of the Treaty of Lisbon was dependent on my dismissal. Rumours, of course, nothing more. I cannot help but think that for the first time in its history, the judiciary police has dismissed a simple official from his post because of external pressure. Those wise words addressed by the Marquis of Pombal to his English ally in the year of Our Lord 1759 seem far removed: "I will never accord to you any more than I owe you."