In its Crimewatch programme, three days ago, the BBC attempted reconstruct the investigation into little Madeleine McCann's disappearance. As we know, it was on May 3rd 2007, in a seaside resort in the south of Portugal.
By coincidence, the broadcast was screened in the middle of the case brought by the little girl's parents against Gonçalo Amaral, the police officer who led the investigation.
In any case, even if the criminal investigation is a failure, the television series was a success: 6.7 million viewers, representing 27.4% of the ratings. A BBC spokesman said: "It's the best audience for Crimewatch since 2002." Almost double the average. Nearly a thousand people contacted Scotland Yard about the broadcast. Potential witness statements and tip-offs all came after the showing of several E-fits. The case has turned out to be so juicy that other channels are predicted to follow in the BBC's footsteps.
Pamalam's blog, which since the start of the investigation, has listed every detail of the case in "McCann: PJ Files," registered a hundred visitors a minute after the broadcast.
It's now more than six years since Madeleine McCann disappeared. Was she abducted? Is she dead? Millions of people are fascinated by this case, which will remain, without doubt, in the record books as the first criminal investigation to have set the internet ablaze. And without doubt, also the one that has amassed the most money. Shortly after the events, Maddie's parents opened a web site to collect donations and celebrities from several countries got their cheque books out, people like Joanne Rowling (Harry Potter) and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Today, their kitty must be comfortable. With that money, after having slammed the door in the Portuguese PJ's face, they were able to engage a myriad of private detectives, some of whom just sniffed a good money-maker. The McCanns are stars. They were received by Pope Benedict XVI and it was David Cameron who personally asked the Met in May 2011 to attach a team of investigators to this case - following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, who intervened personally in the case. On the other side of the channel, however, people were astonished at this use of resources and wondered if taxpayers' money was being well spent.
Maddie's parents have also taken action against Gonçalo Amaral who, after being thrown off the case, gave his version of events in a book (In France L'Enquête Interdite, published by Bourin) They are suing him for £1 million.
And so it was, in the middle of the trial, that Scotland Yard decided to take its findings to the BBC to demonstrate that it was well and truly an abduction and that Maddie was probably still alive, which, as a result strengthens the accusation of defamation against Gonçalo Amaral. Elsewhere, there are murmurs that this might be about a manoeuvre to influence the Portuguese trial. If that is the case, it has not succeeded because the judge does not seem to have allowed herself to be influenced by it. She has put in his place Gerry McCann, who, after having stated that he would not be appearing at the trial has applied pressure to give evidence. We'll see after the appearance of the listed witnesses if hearing the plaintiff and the accused is necessary, the judge responded dryly. The verdict is predicted for the end of November.
But why the devil would Scotland Yard want to whitewash the McCanns at all costs?
Pat Brown, an American profiler, talks in her blog about a ridiculous reconstruction (the film was made in Spain with professional comedians) and of a story adapted for television. She has studied this case and written a book on the little girl's disappearance. (Profile of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann) This book was withdrawn by booksellers Amazon at the request of the McCann family, but it is possible to find it on other sites. She includes the theory (without believing it) that the investigators tried to entrap the McCanns. In any case, stone by stone, she demolishes the BBC's "investigation."
Scotland Yard is offering a reward that could amount to £20,000 for any information useful to the investigation. It's almost an admission of failure, because, it must be said that in spite of all their talk, the British investigators have done no better than their Portuguese colleagues. It's probably an abduction "to order," says Andy Redwood. Unless, he adds, it's a burglary gone wrong. But nothing was stolen. The only troubling detail is in the timing. Until now, it was thought that the events took place at around 9.15pm. In fact, according to the Met, it would be more likely to have been around 10pm.
If this theory is confirmed, it will be necessary to re-interview all the witnesses, taking into account where they were at the time of the events. That could only be done seriously during a total reconstruction, each person taking up where they were on that evening of May 2007. That is obvious!
The significant lead (the famous revelation that the world was waiting for), centres on this unknown who was allegedly seen carrying a child in his arms. But this detail was already present in the Portuguese police investigation. It's about the witness statements of an Irish family, the Smiths, who were on holiday in the area. Mr Smith and his wife had flinched when they saw Gerry McCann on their television, descending from the plane which had brought him from Portugal in 2007. It was his way of walking and the way he was holding one of his children in his arms, which drew their attention. They gave a statement to the Gardai (Irish police) who alerted the PJ. Amaral then took up their statements to get them to return to Portugal and organise a reconstruction. But shortly afterwards, he was removed from the case and his successor didn't find it important to follow up this lead. A pity, because without being one hundred per cent sure, both said that the individual whom they saw on the evening of the drama, strongly resembled Maddie's father. -
That's worrying, is it not!
(Original article by Georges Moréas 17/10/2013)