Saturday, 16 August 2008

The Madeleine case versus the McCann case. (SOS Madeleine McCann 16/08/08)

"The main revelations after the disclosure of 30,000 pages of the police investigation file in the Madeleine McCann case," Jon Swaine writes in The Telegraph.

Two possibilities: that Jon Swaine hasn't read the pages disclosed by the Portuguese Public Minister, as is the case with a lot of British journalists; that he can't count and so it's important to give him the message that there are effectively just over 30,000 pages in the process, but, for the moment, the Public Minister has only given access to a small part.

A privileged few could possibly have all 30,000 pages, but that is certainly not the case with Jon Swaine.

The last ditch witness statements - as many have called them - were loaded by the British police. This is revealed in the report from Leicestershire police.

"During the interview, he let me refresh my memory by reading the translated version of my original statement to the PJ," Catriona Treasa Sicile Baker, one of the Ocean Club's nannies admitted. She was interviewed twice on April 14th 2008 by officer Gierc of the Leicestershire police - interview recorded on DVD - and her responses were, unsurprisingly, identical to those she gave to the PJ inspectors in Portugal, especially after having been able to, "refresh," her memory.

That is exactly what the British officers did with all the witnesses who had already been interviewed by PJ inspectors in Portugal in the days following Madeleine's disappearance, departing from the principle that the interviews were designed to find possible contradictions and to check the value of the first witness statements. Letting witnesses respond after having refreshed their memory, isn't that loading the results?

"It was after a lead taken up by the MCanns' new detectives that the Belgian police analysed the CCTV video at the KBC bank in Brussels, where a child was confused with Madeleine," writes Correio da Manha about the new detective agency hired by the McCanns...not true. The McCanns learned about the existence of this witness, a Securitas security guard, from the British media. It was The Sun that managed to publish the first images and to provide the couple with the CCTV video from the bank.

The Belgian Federal Police immediately opened an investigation to identify and locate the child and the woman accompanying her, but the disclosure of the images by The Sun and the posters distributed in the area by the Daily Express team let the little girl's father make himself known to the police. The detectives had nothing to do with this story.

It is also interesting to see that Gerry McCann, "was astonished that copies of the investigation file had been given to the media," as he wrote on his blog, on August 14th 2008. The McCanns have two of the best and the most expensive lawyers in the United Kingdom - Angus McBride and Michael Caplan. They hired two of the best and the most expensive Portuguese lawyers: Rogério Alves, former chairman of the Portuguese Bar, and Pinto de Abreu.

In Portugal, it is legal and usual to give the media access to investigations files, at three specific moments: when secrecy of justice is lifted and the case is archived, after the indictment and before the trial, when the trial is concluded.

Any young lawyer could have told the McCanns' British lawyers that once the secrecy of justice was lifted, the media would have access to the files. So, why so surprised? No one would have told the McCanns, then, while they were demanding the lifting of the secrecy of justice every day, that once it was done, the files would also be available to journalists? Were they expecting that only their lawyers and those of Murat would have sole access to the files? Then the couple's Portuguese lawyers did not correctly inform their clients, or else there is something weird about the McCanns' surprise.

The appeal made by Gerry McCann in his last message on his blog is also interesting: "Now that the authorities are no longer looking for Madeleine, we implore all those who gave information to the investigation to contact us at or on + 44 (0) 845 838 4699. We guarantee that all information will be treated with complete confidentiality. You could help us to find Madeleine."

What does he mean, "all information will be treated with complete confidentiality."? The police, British or Portuguese will not be informed? When Metodo3 set up a hotline, Clarence Mitchell was insistent that the new telephone help service was not going to short-circuit the investigation into Madeleine's disappearance by the Portuguese police. "This will, in effect, be a parallel set-up," he said.

"Our own detecives can rapidly follow every potential lead and I would like to stress that all credible information that comes to the hotline is immediately shared with police forces (of the appropriate countries) whether that's Spain, Portugal of North Africa, according to the nature of the information. This is not a sign of loss of confidence. We would like this to be an exercise in collaboration with the police."

Duarte Levy & Paulo Reis