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Madeleine: digging for the truth?

madeleine9The Portuguese Polícia Judiciária, often denigrated in the UK for their handling of the Madeleine McCann case, have made in clear they are in charge of the latest phase of the investigation and that the Metropolitan Police Service and the British media had better toe the line.  

Mark Rowley, assistant commissioner of the Met, says he has discussed with his PJ counterpart the high level of interest in the forthcoming ground search activity, some of which is likely to take place in public.

In an open letter to the British media, Rowley warned that “if we provide any briefings or information on the work they are undertaking on our behalf, or if reporters cause any disruption to their work in Portugal, activity will cease.”

The Met appealed for “media restraint” when it upped its two-year review to a fully-fledged investigation in July last year, but since then there has been an almost non-stop torrent of  media reports - mostly highly speculative and many plainly absurd - about ‘new leads’ and ‘prime suspects.’

The Mirror broke the latest news about the ground searches by quoting - not the Met police - but a source close to Madeleine’s parents.

“Kate and Gerry have been told police will be conducting the searches in and around Praia da Luz as soon as they get the green light from Portuguese authorities,” said the source.

Scotland Yard refused to comment, but the Mirror felt able to inform its readers, “There will be earth diggers everywhere and it will look very dramatic and it will be a heartbreaking and hugely emotional time for Madeleine’s poor parents.”

The paper’s unnamed source went on to make the assertion that “police have assured Kate and Gerry that it does not mean they are specifically searching for her body. They are doing searches as much as to rule scenarios out as much as rule them in.”

If the intention is not to search specifically for a body, “how many holes do you have to dig to rule out the existence of a body?” wondered an unnamed Portuguese police source quoted by the Portugal News.

“Why does the Metropolitan Police Service want to dig up holes if they believe Madeleine is still alive? How do you prove that somebody is alive by digging up holes?” the Portuguese police source added.

In questioning the usefulness of serious excavations in the village, a Praia da Luz resident told the Algarve Resident newspaper: “We’ve had so many people suspected of abducting the child, but none of them were thought to have been in the possession of heavy-duty, earth-digging equipment when they did so.”

The fact is, apart from the beach, the terrain in most of the neighbourhood consists of limestone bedrock. Even in the patches of shallow hard soil, how could an abductor have buried a body, or any other material evidence, unobserved and without tools?
In a wry observation, the Portugal News source said about the British detectives:  “Sincerely, it is not easy to understand them. But I’m sure they know what they are doing.”

A Portuguese judge apparently did not entirely agree and turned down as unwarranted a British police request to do house searches on ‘people of interest’ who worked at the complex where the McCanns were staying.

Meanwhile, the hope in the tranquil resort of Praia da Luz, and in the rest of Portugal, is that detectives from the PJ and the Met can work quietly and harmoniously as an efficient team and come up with some hard evidence that leads to justice for Madeleine.

© Len Port 2014

This article is from Portugal Newswatch, a blog with reflections on current affairs in Portugal by international journalist and author Len Port.


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+4 #9 chiptheduck 2014-05-11 12:17
Spot on Mike!
+5 #8 Mike Towl 2014-05-11 08:25
Belinda, luv, I respect your views, the odd one or two I can deciphre, but can you honestly imagine the PT government giving the PSP 5 million spondoolies to fumble about in the dark on a 7 year old case in Blighty and dig up part of Skegness, looking for God knows what? Everyone here and in the UK are "McCanned Out." The poor child is gone, let her rest in peace.
PS. Congrats on your mastery of Esperanto.
+7 #7 RCK 2014-05-10 19:22
A very tragic case. However to put the record straight on culpability, the gov.uk website quotes the NSPCC as follows; "The law does not say an age when you can leave a child on their own, but it is an offence to leave a child alone if it places them at risk. Use your judgement on how mature your child is before you decide to leave them alone. Children under 12 are rarely mature enough to be left alone for a long period. BABIES, TODDLERS & VERY YOUNG CHILDREN SHOULD NEVER BE LEFT ALONE. The law says that parents can be prosecuted if they leave a child unsupervised in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health". Seems quite clear to me. What about fire risk? Or imagine the distress for a 4 year old or the even younger twins if they wake up & find their parents have deserted them in between intermittent visits to the room. What about all the potentially harmful implements in kitchen drawers. And the parents are both highly intelligent doctors. Nuff said
+4 #6 Alemã 2014-05-10 14:26
@Belinda: Seriously??? One has to be TOLD, that he must not leave his/her kids unguided??? What then is the definition of "parents"??? Same for "luxury possessions".... Is there any sense of responsibility left in society? It´s absolutely impudent to blame others for ones´ own failure.
+3 #5 Belinda Carlyle 2014-05-10 10:58
Senhor Towl has the standard line of the locals ...go home !

The last 30 years having passed him by; we, British, are home !! But none of what follows will register with him ...

The EU is our home ... over 80,000 Portuguese, over 70% economically active, are in the UK. That is their home and living 'in the future' obviously suits them.

How many pre-retirement age, decent, educated, middle class British are likewise economically active here ???

And - having mentioned the decent, educated, middle class - how many more generations must pass before we can expect a clearly differentiated Portuguese 'middle class'?

One that anchors the elite upper class in reality and speaks effectively for its interests and those of the country. Not just moans pointlessly about the Troika as the elite tell them to.

And for a start - that re-writes the Defamation law to allow justified 'whistle blowing' ?
+7 #4 Mike Towl 2014-05-10 07:55
Chip the Duck is spot on. This is not about about Madeleine McCann but about her smug parents and Scotland Yard trying to justify the £5million Cameron, solely for political expediency of course,coughed up. Do I detect a bit of Johnny Foreigner hating in Ms Carlyle's inane ramblings. If so the answer
for her is simple. It's called Ryanair. They'll get you out of this hell hole. To be fair though she's right about one thing, the PSP could have done more, like locking the McCanns up for abandoning a toddler in a hotel room while they went out on the sauce. Family holiday?
+4 #3 Belinda Carlyle 2014-05-09 18:38
This 2 week ongoing murder search for a Manuel Balthazar (?) further north in Portugal and that completed in two days for Skullcracker in the UK illustrates well a substantial difference between the two police forces.

UK Police immediately put the dodgies history; his face and enough to ID him on national TV and the press.

Are the Portuguese Police still orientated towards looking inwards at their own people - and in protecting the elites interests ??

So how are the PJ / GNR asking for help from people without describing him ?. And if describing him ... why can the rest of us in Portugal (and the rest of the EU?) not know his height, weight, skin tan etc ???

Enough to ID the chap and pick up the phone to the cops and say 'I think the man you want is having a pint at the bar next to me'

At this stage he is only 'helping the Police with their enquiries' ? So getting it wrong and identifying the wrong man - is not crucial.
+3 #2 Chip the Duck 2014-05-09 12:43
Seven years on and hardly a week goes by without the McCanns appearing on TV or giving press interviews. They've visited the Pope, sued a Portuguese policeman, published a book and continually raised the profile of the investigation.

Now it seems that "media restraint" is needed.

Shut the McCanns up and send the Met back to London to look for the children in the capital who go missing at the rate of one a day. Their parents deserve a share of taxpayers' money as well - and we might then get "media restraint".
+6 #1 Belinda Carlyle 2014-05-09 11:05
This may seem a tangent but two things stand out with this case ... where were the posters warning guests and residents in the block of flats the McCanns used - of undesirables operating in or near it - perhaps with ID descriptions ?

British residents had previously reported thefts of luxury possessions from their apartments - provably logged by the police for their insurance claims. The thieves were known to have used a master passkey as there was no damage in gaining access so may well have been ex-staff or connected to them.

Also - why no posters warning of previous assaults / interference by a smelly, swarthy, tanned man speaking poor english and an obscene focus on infant / young white (just British?) girls ???

Without these warning notifications - which the Portuguese Police still do not make today - the McCanns made a tragic misjudgement in leaving their children un-guarded.

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