Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Enfants Kidnappés: does the archiving of the file mean the end of the investigation?


The end of the investigation. 22/07/08

The PJ have assured, this Tuesday, that they will continue to follow all leads concerning Maddie's disappearance. On Monday, the PGR announced the archiving of the file, the said, "Maddie case," and the lifting of the arguido status of the only three suspects in this case. The Public Minister decided to, "archive the investigation into Madeleine McCann's disappearance, in the absence of proof that the suspected people had committed the least crime," stated the press release from the PGR. In consequence, the MP decided to, "suspend," the status of the parents and of the Luso-British man, Robert Murat. The MP also made clear that the case could be re-opened, "if new evidence appeared," and he confirmed that anyone who had a legitimate interest (that means: legally or judicially valid) would have access to the documents of the investigation as soon as the legal deadline expired. Then what?

The Maddie case will sink into oblivion until, by chance, a detail appears miraculously in broad daylight? Until someone at work trips over the little girl's body? Until someone confesses? Of course not! It would seem that this is not the way followed by members of the PJ. The Department of Criminal Investigation (DIC) of Portimao is going to be briefly strengthened in order to cope with the possibility of new leads or new sensitive details to be analysed within the context of the Maddie case. For some time already, there has been a sense of excitement on the part of the PJ. New leads would seem to be checked in total secrecy. It is not to be ruled out that the PJ are holding something. Whatever it is, the case remains open. Indeed, little Madeleine's disappearance is not resolved. To my knowledge, neither the little girl nor her body has been found. And as long as we do not find Madeleine or her body, the case will remain open!

Police failure?

The fact that 14 months after the opening of the investigation, the PJ don't know what happened to Madeleine is, for many, considered as a failure. And it is true, it is a failure. The fact that the police have not cornered the person or people who committed a crime or an offence, is a failure. But the PJ can be criticised for nothing, absolutely nothing. They have not skimped on resources and since the investigation was placed in the hands of the PJ, it has been pursued in a very professional manner. The PJ have kept on course in the face of an excessively high profile media case. Dealing with extremely heavy and totally shameful political pressure within the context of the disappearance of a child. Faced with a perfectly oiled PR and marketing machine. Faced with unprecedented financial power. Against all odds, the PJ have kept their professionalism, their thoroughness and impartiality.

Proof, if anything, of the objectivity of the final report. It is easy to criticise after the facts! To say: "but they should have done this or that." Criticism often made by people who did not even know that such and such a procedure existed! Thus we strongly condemn the press of any kind and their cheap hacks for not having the slightest notion on the subject of police procedure when we read articles of the type: "The PJ have committed a very serious error! They should have immediately set up a security barrier. To prevent the crime scene being contaminated...." Of course, a security barrier would have been the best thing to do. It is also universal procedure!!!! In use by all the police forces of the world! The lowliest candidate, having taken his exam to become a police inspector knows it! But to begin with, it did not look like a crime! It looked like a child had wandered off, nothing more. It looked like a four year-old child left alone in a foreign country and who would be lost in the surrounding countryside trying to join her parents. At the outset, no one in law enforcement thought it was an abduction. And that is normal! It is the procedure. The criteria for a kidnapping were not met and according to the PJ have still not been!

Justified suspicion?

For several months people have been talking about a basic principle of our democracy, which is the idea of, "presumption of innocence." One of the last bastions of democracy is the police, whatever some may say. Without the police, we can only imagine the rate of thefts, rapes, murders, crimes and offences in all categories etc. One of the operating principles of a police force rests with the idea of , "justified suspicion." What is justified suspicion? It is a set of worrying details, placed end to end, which in any event, allows the consideration whether someone is guilty or implicated in something. The details in the possession of the PJ and contained in the file allow the investigators to have, "justified suspicion," with regard to the parents. It is through this kind of element of suspicion that the police can follow a lead then bring together all the factors and finally end up with one or several pieces of evidence. The line between justified suspicion and solid evidence is sometimes thin, especially for an individual. Thus, a picture worth more than a thousand words, I suggest the following parallel to you.

In summer, a night patrol hear the sound of glass during their rounds, a few metres away, just round the corner. In under five seconds, the police officers are at the scene of the offence, a dead-end road from which no one can flee without passing the police patrol officers. On the scene, the team find two individuals wearing gloves, backs turned towards a stationary vehicle with a window which has just been smashed. On the ground, next to the two individuals, there is a car radio with wires hanging out and on the other side of the two individuals, the kit for the perfect petty thief. There is no other exit and no one could flee without being seen by the patrol officers who were nearby. The police officers get out of their vehicle, arrest the two individuals who are given the status of, "suspect." The ticket will be drawn up as, "theft from a vehicle."

To you, to me, to the intervening police officers, it is clear that the individuals are the guilty parties. The magistrate, however releases them in the absence of evidence. In fact, they plead their innocence and claim that they went to the scene after having heard the noise of glass and that the objects near them do not belong to them and as no one saw them commit the offence, not even the police officers, there is no proof. There is justified suspicion in the eyes of the police, but there is no proof in the eyes of the magistrate. There is doubt. The suspects are no longer that and are released.

There is a small explanatory illustration of what is justified suspicion. In the Maddie case, the first justified suspicion appeared, in the eyes of the investigators, from the first evening, during Madeleine's disappearance itself. That suspicion seemed obvious to the professionals when Kate, after having waited 10 minutes in the apartment, went back ALONE, leaving the twins asleep in the apartment where, according to her, a crime had just been committed, saying: "they've taken her, they've taken her," but without protecting her two other children from a predator who could have been still hiding on the scene or coming back to take the twins. A mother would have wakened her little ones and would have taken them with her to protect them from danger. And there was the first suspicion of the police. Others followed to swell the ranks.

The fact that the PGR decided to archive the case and to suspend the status of the three suspects does not make anyone innocent and based on the presumption of innocence, does not make anyone guilty either!

Kate McCann

"We welcome the news, even if there is no reason to rejoice," stated a very emotional Kate McCann in a brief statement read in the village of Rothley, in Central England, where the couple live. "We will never give up." : Madeleine's parents hope that from now on the archiving of the case, "in the absence of evidence," will allow them to relaunch the international campaign which has lost momentum.

Alipio Ribeiro

The former PJ director, Alipio Ribeiro, thinks that the Maddie case was archived, "too hastily." He stresses that the hunt for a child can last several years. "The hasty archiving can harm, perhaps permanently, an ultimate solution." "A case of the disappearance of a child cannot be closed, for lack of evidence, so soon after the tragedy," Alipio Ribeiro said in a note published by the Diario Economico. "The length of the investigation is not the length of the news item or its media reports, still less when it is about the disappearance of a child," says M. Ribeiro, who resigned in May last years, saying he was, "exhausted by the media coverage of his role." He ended his interview stating: "perhaps it would have been more appropriate to suspend the status of the suspects and, within a certain context, to continue the investigation."

Gonçalo Amaral.

Ex-inspector Gonçalo Amaral, who led the investigation, before being replaced in October for having criticised his British colleagues, considers that the archiving of the judicial procedure does not mean that the little girl's parents have been cleared. "This is not a declaration of innocence. The Public Minister has not said they are innocent." was his reaction on Tuesday. Gonçalo Amaral, now retired, who placed the McCann couple under investigation, will present the book he has written on the Maddie case on Thursday - "The Truth if the Lie." In this book, he promises, "facts," to support his conviction that, "Maddie died in the apartment," in Praia da Luz where she was sleeping on the night of her disappearance.