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Madeleine: what's behind the search?

praiadaluzMany people with a keen interest in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann are hopeful that the latest phase in the investigation will reveal vital evidence that will lead to the solving of the seven-year-old mystery. Many others have already written it off as a waste of time – or maybe worse.

A prevalent view is that the Metropolitan Police Service must have good reason for mounting an extensive ground search to which they have committed a forensic team, ground-penetrating radar equipment, specialist dogs and with heavy earth-moving machinery on stand-by.

The reason must have been strong enough to persuade the Portuguese authorities to allow the search on a piece of private land near the centre of Praia da Luz during the summer holiday season.

The British detectives have been understandably cagey about what they expect to achieve, but it seems unlikely they would have gone to such legal and bureaucratic lengths, and agreed to pay the search costs, only to confirm there is nothing of interest buried on the site.

No one will be more surprised if the police do find a body or any other evidence than Praia da Luz residents who know the site well.  They point out that countless walkers and their dogs have crisscrossed the scrubland interminably over the past seven years.

The area comprises bedrock and soil so hard that a kidnapper or anyone else trying to dispose of a body there would have needed a JCB himself. That anyone unfamiliar with the area could have buried evidence at nighttime or unseen is not feasible, they say.

Credible sources say that some Portuguese Judicial Police officers in the Algarve are among those ridiculing the search operation.

Seasoned sceptics suspect it may be just “a fishing trip,” or even a “whitewash,” part of a plan to try to bring the investigation to a dignified close.  

As ever, speculation is rife. Let’s hope for some clarification in the days ahead.

© Len Port 2014


Algarve-based Len Port has been a journalist for 50 years, working as a staff reporter, broadcaster and freelance correspondent for many leading news organisations. He covered events in the Far east in the Sixties, and in Northern Ireland and South Africa in the Seventies. Since moving to Portugal in the early Eighties, he has edited regional magazines, contributed to national dailies in Britain and written several books, two of which are currently available as ebooks with Amazon.

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+3 #1 Ernesto 2014-06-03 18:32
'Credible sources' say that some Portuguese Judicial Police officers in the Algarve are among those ridiculing the search operation....

So flexible when it suits them - this absurd 'Police investigation secrecy'!

Surely still decades away from 'Police appeals for information'; Police staged re-enactments with press and TV coverage and that routine of the UK Police identifying someone 'to help with their enquiries'.
In more developed countries proven to work.

Ask a 'friendly neighbour' about the bad old days ... and whether, even today, they would 'trust a copper' and report crimal behaviour that did not cause loss to them or theirs.

We Brits must always bear in mind, as any honest Portuguese will tell you - that the Portuguese have never known a modern, competent, assumed incorruptible police force.

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