Thursday, 31 January 2008

Mumia Abu-Jamal; ruling near on jury.

"Ruling near on Abu-Jamal jury

A U.S. court is weighing race and other issues in death sentence.

In the nearly 26 years since his conviction for the murder of Officer Daniel Faulkner, the international tempest over Mumia Abu-Jamal has fixed primarily on this question: Did he do it, or was he framed by Philadelphia police?

Yet inside the chambers of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Abu-Jamal's innocence or guilt is not the issue. Since May, three judges have been weighing whether to reinstate his death sentence, overturned in 2001. If they do, his last hope will be the U.S. Supreme Court, which hears fewer than 2 percent of all petitions filed each year.

The Third Circuit's decision, expected soon, will be based on knotty constitutional questions relating to the fairness of his 1982 trial in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court and subsequent state appeals:

Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday 27th January 2008

Here we read that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit is deliberating on the question of whether Mumia Abu-Jamal had a fair trial in 1982, when he was found guilty of the murder of a police officer.

Who is Mumia?

"Mumia Abu-Jamal was serving as the President of the Association of Black Journalists at the time of his arrest. He was a founding member of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Black Panther Party as a teenager. Years later he began reporting professionally on radio stations such as NPR, and was the news director of Philadelphia station WHAT. Much of his journalism called attention to the blatant injustice and brutality he watched happen on a daily basis to MOVE, a revolutionary organization that works to protect all forms of life--human, animal, plant--and the Earth as a whole."

The Scene
In 1981, Mumia worked as a cab driver at night to supplement his income. On December 9th he was driving his cab through the red light district of downtown Philadelphia at around 4 a.m. Mumia testifies that he let off a fare and parked near the corner of 13th and Locust Streets. Upon hearing gunshots, he turned and saw his brother, William Cook, staggering in the street. Mumia exited the cab and ran to the scene, where he was shot by a uniformed police officer and fell to the ground, fading in and out of consciousness. Within minutes, police arrived on the scene to find Officer Faulkner and Mumia shot; Faulkner died. Mumia was arrested, savagely beaten, thrown into a paddy wagon and driven to a hospital a few blocks away (suspiciously, it took over 30 minutes to arrive at the hospital). Mumia somehow survived.

The Trial
The trial began in 1982 with Judge Sabo (who sent more people to death row than any other judge) presiding. Mumia wished to represent himself and have John Africa as his legal advisor, but before jury selection had finished, this right was revoked and an attorney was forcibly appointed for him. Throughout the trial, Mumia was accused of disrupting court proceedings and was not allowed to attend most of his own trial. Sabo lived up to his nickname of “Prosecutor in Robes.”

The Evidence
The prosecution claimed that the shot which killed Faulkner came from Mumia Abu-Jamal’s legally registered .38-caliber weapon, contradicting the medical examiner’s report that the bullet removed from Faulkner’s brain was a .44-caliber. This fact was kept from the jury. Moreover, a ballistics expert found it incredible that police at the scene failed to test Mumia’s gun to see if has been recently fired, or to test his hands for powder residue. One of the most damning prosecution claims was that Mumia confessed at the hospital. However, this confession was not reported until nearly two months after December 9th, immediately after Mumia had filed a brutality suit against the police. One of the officers who claims to have heard the confession is Gary Wakshul. However, in his police report on that day he stated, “the Negro male made no comments.” Dr. Coletta, the attending physician who was with Mumia the entire time, says that he never heard Mumia speak.

The Witnesses
The star prosecution witness, a prostitute named Cynthia White, was someone no other witness reported seeing at the scene. During the trial of Billy Cook (Mumia’s brother) just weeks before Mumia’s trial, White gave testimony completely contradictory to what she stated at Mumia’s trial. Her testimony at Billy Cook’s trial placed someone at the scene who was not there when police arrived. This corroborates the other five witness accounts that someone fled the scene. In a 1997 hearing, another former prostitute, Pamela Jenkins, testified that White was acting as a police informant. Other sworn testimony revealed that witness coercion was routinely practiced by the police. In 1995, eyewitness William Singletary testified that police repeatedly tore up his initial statement--that the shooter fled the scene--until he finally signed something acceptable to them. The following year, witness Veronica Jones came forward to testify that she had been coerced into changing her initial statement that two men fled the scene. Witness Billy Cook, who was present the whole time, has stated very clearly that Mumia is absolutely innocent.

The Sentence
Due to police manipulation of witnesses, fabrication of evidence, and the rights of the defense severely denied, Mumia was found guilty. He was sentenced to death during the penalty phase based solely on his political beliefs. Mumia has been unjustly separated from his family for twenty-two years, with the threat of death looming over his head.

New Witnesses
In 2001, court stenographer Terri Maurer-Carter came forward and stated that in 1982, before Mumia’s trial began, she heard Judge Sabo say, “Yeah, and I’m going to help them fry the n****r.” He was referring to Mumia. This backs up evidence of judicial bias and racism in Mumia’s case. In the same year, esteemed Philadelphia journalist Linn Washington stated that on the morning of December 9th, 1981, he went to the scene to report on it--and no police were present. This backs up prior claims that police didn’t handle the crime scene properly.

The Confession
In 1999, Arnold Beverly confessed to killing Officer Faulkner. This confession is validated by a lie detector test administered by eminent polygraph expert Charles Honts. Despite concrete evidence supporting this confession, the Philadelphia District Attorney has refused to investigate, and the courts have not even allowed it to be heard. The injustice continues . . .

The Decisions
On December 18th, 2001, Judge Yohn issued a decision on the Habeas Corpus petition
in Federal District Court. He upheld Mumia’s unjust conviction, but challenged the sentencing phase (the death sentence). This means there could be a new sentencing hearing after all appeals are resolved, but the only options are life in prison with no possibility of parole or another death sentence. This is not justice. There is massive evidence of Mumia’s innocence and he should be absolutely free. Mumia’s legal team
filed an appeal of this decision in January of 2002. Mumia remains on death row until
all appeals by both sides are heard.

Judge Pamela Dembe’s November 21, 2001, rejection of Mumia’s request to reopen the PCRA hearings was appealed by Mumia’s legal team. Judge Dembe based her decision almost entirely on the Peterkin case, which has just been overturned! On October 8, 2003, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected the appeal, stating that the Beverly confession cannot be heard due to time limitations. The court also stated that Terri Maurer-Carter’s testimony is irrelevant. The struggle continues.

The Movement
A broad international movement has formed in support of Mumia. Celebrities such as Danny Glover, Ossie Davis, and Susan Sarandon, world leaders like Nelson Mandela, Danielle Mitterand (former First Lady of France), and Fidel Castro, governing bodies
such as the Japanese Diet, 22 members of the British Parliament, and the European Parliament have all recognized the blatant injustice in this case and have called for a new trial at the very least. Millions of people throughout the world have taken to the streets to protest his unjust imprisonment.

Mumia’s case has been a unifying point for many social struggles because it concentrates issues vitally important to our future, such as the rise in prison populations, police brutality, the death penalty, persecution of political dissent, and the continuation of white supremacy and racism in the U.S. From death row, Mumia has continued to speak out for all who are oppressed through his journalism. He has published four books, and his weekly columns are published throughout the world. His case is one of the most important social justice fights of our time.

Write To Mumia

Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

From way back in September; how Kate McCann explained the corpse odour on her clothes.

While it's gone quiet in the press and there seems to be nothing new coming out of Portugal about the Madeleine investigation, apart from news that the rogatory letters have not left Lisbon, I thought I'd have a look back at some interesting news items from earlier in the case. While searching I found an article in SOS Madeleine about the alleged corpse odour on Kate McCann's clothes and how she came up with an explanation. (More about that article later!) So what about those dogs? From Breaking News archives, news about the dogs being flown in to help.

Breaking News archives August 9th, 2007

A pair of elite police sniffer dogs attached to an English police force has been helping Portuguese police in their hunt for missing four-year-old Madeleine McCann, it has emerged.

The specially-trained English springer spaniels Eddie and Keela were reportedly flown to Praia da Luz in the Algarve last week to take part in the investigation."

Eddie and Keela, those amazing sniffer dogs, trained by South Yorkshire Police were brought into the investigation of Madeleine McCann's disappearance at the beginning of August, 2007. Keela is specially trained to detect traces of blood which are not visible to the human eye, even after items have been washed repeatedly in biological washing powder. She is reported to have found traces of blood in the McCanns' holiday apartment and in the Renault Scenic, rented by the McCanns 25 days after Madeleine disappeared. Eddie is a, "Victim recovery dog," described in the press as a, "cadaver dog," who is trained to detect a specific odour which is given off by a corpse about two hours after death. Eddie is said to have detected the corpse odour in the McCanns' holiday apartment and in the Renault Scenic.

So, how did Kate respond? "Oh my God, how did that get there, if this is true?" Or maybe, "I do not beleive that my daughter is dead and no one who drove that vehicle would have harmed her." Or, when told about the odour on her clothes? "I work one and a half days a week as a GP. How could a death odour get on my clothes?" No, Kate didn't say any of those things. A one and a half days a week GP came across several corpses, six I think, just before going on holiday.

SOS Maddie 7th September, 2007

Kate McCann justifie l’odeur de cadavre dans ses vêtements

Kate McCann justifie l’odeur de cadavre, détecté par les chiens pisteurs britanniques, dans une paire de jeans, son t-shirt et dans la peluche de Madeleine, affirmant que, comme médecin, elle était présente au moment de plusieurs décès avant son départ en vacances vers le Portugal."

Kate McCann justifies the corpse odour on her clothes.

Kate McCann justifies the corpse odour, detected by the British sniffer dogs on a pair of jeans, her T shirt and on Madeleine's stuffed toy, stating that as a doctor, she was present at the moment of several deaths before her holiday departure to Portugal.

"La maman de Maddie, travaille deux jours par semaine à Leicester, ou elle aurait – comme l’a affirmé aux enquêteurs de la Police Judiciaire – été présent au moment de la mort de six personnes, jusqu’avant ses vacances. La peluche de Madeleine, affirme Kate McCann, aurais été avec elle, à plusieurs occasions, dans son local de travail (à suivre)

Maddie's mother works two days a week in Leicester, where she had--as she stated to the PJ investigators, been present at the moment of death of six people, just before her holiday. Kate McCann stated that Madeleine's stuffed toy had been with her on lots of occasion at her place of work. (More to follow)

"Un procureur discret

José de Magalhães e Meneses, c’est le Procureur du Ministère Publique qui a la charge de l’enquête à la disparition de Madeleine McCann. Agé de 50 ans il est considéré comme très compétent, pondère et discret."

A discreet prosecutor

José de Magalhães e Meneses is the prosecutor of the Ministère Publique, who is in charge of the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Aged 50, he is considered to be very competant, a deep thinker and discreet.

There was a thread in the now vanished Daily Mirror forum, "The hunt for Maddy," which had the title, "April carnage in Rothley...." The discussion on that thread was stimulated by the quote from a retired (I think!) GP who was quoted as saying that in his full-time practice he never came across that number of corpses in a short period of time. So, why all those dead people for Kate McCann, a part-timer, working one and a half days a week as a locum GP? It was suggested by a couple of Daily Mirror posters that surely the regular partners in the GP practice would attend to certify the deaths of patients. Or, since the above quoted article states that Kate was present at the moment of death, maybe she was just very unlucky that they all died just as she was visiting. That doesn't, though, explain the corpse odour, as the odour detected by Eddie is given off only after a couple of hours following death. So, if Kate was present at the moment of death, why would she be hanging about for a couple of hours afterwards, and carrying her daughter's favourite toy, Cuddle Cat, while she was in proximity to the corpses?

Let me get this straight. According to the report in SOS Madeleine, Kate stated that she had been present at the moment of death of six people just before going on holiday, and that she often took Cuddle Cat to work with her. So, each time, she was there for at least two hours after that moment of death and Cuddle Cat was on or about her person while she was near the corpse. Did Kate wear jeans to work as a GP? Was Cuddle Cat stuffed into the pocket of her jeans or being carried? A doctor attending the death of a family member wearing jeans and toting a stuffed toy? I think I'd make a complaint!

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Kate and Gerry McCann hindering the investigation.

From The Mirror, Tuesday 29th January, 2008

"Police fury at Madeleine McCann parents"

"Police in Portugal claim Kate and Gerry McCann are hindering the probe into missing Madeleine by releasing sketches of the possible kidnapper.

Detectives say officers have checked out several sightings of the "creepy" stalker that came to nothing, wasting their time.

The latest, a builder in Gibraltar, was quizzed after a tip-off but ruled out. One detective said the drawings were too vague and could "identify dozens or hundreds of people".

But McCann spokesman Clarence Mitchell hinted more sketches could be on the way "if we get any more information".

Good God! So, there might be more! Since Gail Cooper came forward recently and told Metodo 3 about the, "creepy man," she saw walking along the beach in Praia da Luz, we've had the pig farmer:

Pig farmer Joaquim Jose Marques (Pic:Solarpix) Pig farmer Joaquim Jose Marques (Pic:Solarpix)

"Police hunting the "creepy" stranger seen near the resort where Madeleine McCann was snatched have questioned an oddball pig farmer who lives three miles away.

Officers first interviewed Joaquim Jose Marques 20 days after Madeleine vanished but ruled him out as a potential suspect.

Now, they have interviewed him for a second time after Kate and Gerry McCann released a sketch of the scruffy stranger seen acting suspiciously around Praia da Luz in the days before the abduction.

Dreadlocked Marques, in his early 30s, yesterday defiantly refused to answer questions, yelling: "Leave me alone. Look at this face, is this the face in the picture?"

Portuguese police doubt he is the man in the sketch. And McCann spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "As far as we are concerned, the hunt for him continues."

Mirror Creepy Stranger Story 25/01/08

Then there was the man that Gail Cooper was convinced was, "the spitting image," of the man she saw in Praia da Luz, only this man affirms that he has never been near the resort.

"Nouveau suspect dans l'affaire maddie: "Et moi qui croyais être le seul fou"

New suspect in the Maddie case: "And I thought I was the only madman."

C’est ce qu’affirme Joaquim José Nóia Agostinho, le portugais que la presse britannique s’est empressée de signaler comme étant ressemblent au croquis divulgué par les McCann d’un suspect que, présument, pourrait "avoir l’information clé pour aider à localiser Madeleine".

db4aea0e68e3a51d807b066ca5893c56.jpgL’homme, révèle l’hebdomadaire Barlavento, habite le village de Altura, où il est né, et ne connaît Praia da Luz que de nom car il n’y a jamais mis les pieds."

So goes the statement of Joaquim jose Agostinho, the Portuguese man that the British press has pointed out as resembling the sketch of a suspect shown by the McCanns, whom they have decided could, " have key information to help find Madeleine".

The weekly, Barlavento reveals that the man lives in the village of Altura, where he was born and only knows Praia daLuz by name because he has never set foot there.

"Dans le village où il est très populaire, l’opinion est unanime : l’homme, qui bénéficie d’une pension par démence, est inoffensif et sort très rarement du village ou il passe son temps entre les petits boulots et les bars, ou il est également connu comme une personne sans problèmes.

In the village where he is very popular, opinion is unanimous: the man, who gets disability benefits, is inoffensive and very rarely leaves the village where he spends his time between little jobs and the bars, where he is equally known as a person who doesn't give trouble

"Poursuivi constamment par les journalistes du News Of The World, Joaquim ne comprends pas la situation et pour lui l’histoire "à l’air d’une blague de carnaval".

634c4e27c9902026040bf0e2789aa989.jpgC’est d’ailleurs le journal britannique qu’avance que Gail Cooper, le témoin à l’origine du croquis, n’a pas reconnu son suspect mais que Joaquim AGostinho "est presque comme lui" et qu’elle voudrait bien que la police portugaise l’interroge.

Followed constantly by News of The World journalists, Joaquim doesn't understand the situation and for him the story has, "the feel of a carnival joke."

The British newspaper asserts that Gail Cooper, the witness who originated sketch, did not recognize her suspect but says that Joaquim Agostinho "is nearly like him" and that she would like it if the Portuguese police would interrogate him"

"Joaquim Agostinho n’est pas le premier portugais signalé comme ressemblent au croquis mais, jusqu’à maintenant, tous ont été écartés comme suspects, ce que n’empêche pas la police de s’attendre à voir d’autres visages apparaître dans les média : "ceci va continuer car il y a un nombre incalculable de personnes qui pourraient lui ressembler ", affirme une source de la Police Judiciaire, soulignant que la ligne d’enquête reste la même, "malgré toutes les manœuvres de diversion".

Joaquim Agostinho is not the first Portuguese man reported to resemble the sketch, but until now all the others have been eliminated as suspects, which does not prevent the police from expecting to see other faces appearing in the media: "This will continue because there is an incalculable number of people who could look like this sketch", confirms a police source, underlining that the line of the investigation remains the same, " despite all of the diversionary manoeuvres"

On Saturday 26th January, SOS Maddie reported that a sighting in Chile had turned out to be a false lead! Surprise surprise!

And today, Tuesday 29th January, 2008, the sighting in Argentina!

"Nouveau témoignage mais rien ne fait croire que Maddie serait en Argentine"

New witness statement, but there is nothing to make us believe that Maddie could be in Argentina.

Un témoin, Javier Vidable, assure avoir vu Madeleine McCann, le 23 janvier dernier, dans la localité de Villa Unión, en Argentine. L’enfant serait accompagnée par deux adultes décris comme "très nerveux".

Le porte-parole de la police de La Rioja (Argentine), contacté par SOS Madeleine, à confirmé l’existence du témoignage, qu’aurais été fait à la police trois jours après que le témoin aurais aperçu l’enfant, soulignant que l’interrogatoire des autres personnes présentes dans l’hotel fait croire à un enfant plus âgé qui lui ressemble vaguement.

A witness, Javier Vidable, is convinced that he saw Madeleine McCann, om January 23rd in the town of Villa Union in Argentina. The child was accompanied by two adults, described as, "very nervous."

The spokesman for the police in La Rioja (Argentina) contacted by SOS Madeleine, confirmed the existence of the witness statement, which was made to the police three days after the witness had seen the child, emphasizing that others present in the hotel believed that it was an older child who vaguely resembled Madeleine.

Portuguese newspaper, "Diario de Noticias," Tuesday 29th January; translation courtesy of Ozzy, at the 3 Arguidos forum. According to this report, the PJ is still on track to visit the UK and re-interview Kate and Gerry and the rest of the Tapas Crew, in spite of what is seen as, "diversionary tactics," of numerous sightings and suspects, which the police are obliged to follow up and eliminate.

"The PJ are waiting to travel to Rothley at any moment, following the cartas rogatorias which have already been sent. The purpose – to be present at the interrogation of the McCanns, suspected of accidentally killing their daughter and hiding the body.

The PJ still want to seize Kate’s original diary – to be able to bring to court Kate's comments about how difficult it is to deal with a hyperactive child. They also want to once more examine the soft toy which had a death smell as indicated by the cadaver dogs in July."

It appears from this report that the rogatory letters have been received by the UK authorities and that the PJ's visit will take place in the near future. It seems though that these letters were sent a couple of weeks ago, but there does not seem to be any indication of why there is a delay in the visit by the PJ and the interviews taking place. I have read on more than one internet forum the theory that the UK authorities are, for some reason, holding up the process.

So, really, however many new witnesses Metodo 3 discover, or however many old ones they manage to rediscover, the investigation by the PJ is proceeding along the lines of re-interviewing the McCanns and friends in order to clear up inconsistencies in their statements about what happened on the evening of May 3rd, 2007.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Enfants Kidnappes: L'Affaire Madeleine McCann (Updated Saturday 26th January)

Enfants Kidnappes is a Belgian web site devoted to children who are missing, perhaps kidnapped. A very interesting article, today Tuesday 22nd January about Madeleine McCann, repeats some of the information on the SOS Madeleine French language web site. Most of this information is new to me as I am not aware of its having been published by any UK newspaper or journal.

"Nous vous avions parlé il y a quelques semaines, du fait que la police détenait de nouvelles preuves. Nous connaissions ces preuves mais le secret avait été demandé. Nous attendions que l'info soit dévoilée par nos sources avant d'en parler. En effet, ici, à l'Association Enfants Kidnappés nous ne faisons pas la course à l'article, nous ne sommes pas journalistes et notre but n'est pas la recherche du scoop. C'est ainsi que nous étions au courant que la PJ portugaise savait quand et comment Madeleine à été sortie de l'appartement de vacances à Praia Da Luz. La PJ sait également où la petite Madeleine est restée durant les premiers jours! Reste à trouver l'endroit où, selon la PJ, le corps de Madeleine serait en ce moment."

We told you a few weeks ago that in fact the police were holding new evidence. We know what this evidence is but secrecy has been requested. We are waiting for the info to be disclosed by our sources before we talk about it. In fact, here at the Association Enfants Kidnappes we are not in a competition for the publication (article), we are not journalists and we are not looking for a, "scoop." Thus we were made aware that the PJ knew when and how Madeleine was taken out of the holiday apartment at Praia Da Luz. The PJ also (equally) knows where little Madeleine stayed during the first days. According to the PJ, the place where Madeleine is at the moment is still to be found.

Selon toute vraisemblance, cet endroit serait au Portugal. D'autres éléments avaient déjà conforté cette piste. Souvenez vous, nous vous avions aussi parlé de ce cellier où une serviette sur laquelle des vestiges de sang appartenant à Madeleine a été trouvé. C'est également là, que la PJ a retrouvé divers produits "fait maison" qui pourraient être utilisés dans la conservation d'un corps. Toutefois la police n'a pas confirmé qu'ils avaient bien été utilisés à cela. Nous ne passerons pas en revue tous les éléments que la police détient et qui les confortent dans la thèse du décès, vous les connaissez déjà. D'autres éléments troublants vous seront bientôt divulgués, dès que nous aurons reçu le feu vert. Ainsi, la thèse de l'homicide involontaire pourrait bien glisser vers la thèse de l'homicide tout court.
Est-ce à dire que les parents sont coupables...."

In all likelihood this place would be in Portugal. Other details have already confirmed this train of thought. Remember, we have also talked about the barn where a towel bearing traces of blood belonging to Madeleine was found. It was also there that the PJ found various DIY products which could have been used in the preservation of a body. However, the police have not confirmed that they have been used for that. We will not review all the details which the police hold and which confirm for them the idea of death; you know those already. Other troubling details will be disclosed soon, as soon as we receive the green light. Thus the theory of involuntary homicide could very well slide toward the theory of murder. Does this mean that the parents are guilty......?

(To be continued....Tomorrow I will finish the translation!)

Right! I'm going to finish this translation! Saturday 26th January!

Les parents sont-ils coupables ?

A l'heure actuelle, la PJ ne retient que 3 "arguidos", même si nous savons que deux autres personnes pourraient être placées sous ce même statut très bientôt, à savoir Gerry, Kate et Robert Murat. Les éléments recueillis par la PJ accusent-ils les parents ? L'affaire est complexe. La PJ est en train de déterminer qui à fait quoi et avec qui, qui était où et pourquoi, comment s'est déroulée la soirée etc etc. Si la PJ trouve l'endroit où, d'après eux, le corps de la petite Madeleine devrait se trouver, ils pourront déterminer comment elle est décédée... élément qui semble être le seul qui manque au puzzle. Coupable ? Complice ? Victime ? Nous devrons attendre le procès pour éclaircir tous les détails de cette affaire. Mais, peut-on penser à un procès équitable ?"

At the moment, the PJ keep three people as, "arguidos," although we know that two others could be placed under the same status very soon, named as Gerry, Kate and Robert Murat. Does the evidence gathered by the PJ place accusation on the parents? The case is complex. The PJ is in the process of determining who did what and with whom, who was where and why, how did the events of the evening proceed etc etc. If the PJ find the place where, according to them, the body of Madeleine must be found, they can determine how she died....evidence which seems to be the only missing piece of the puzzle. Guilty? Complicity? Victim? We will have to wait for the trial to clear up all the details of this case. But, can a fair trial be considered?

"En effet, les avocats des parents ne pourraient-ils pas jouer sur un droit fondamental de l'accusation ? Un principe bien connu, en droit, est que toute personne est supposée innocente tant que l'on n'a pas fait la preuve de sa culpabilité. Chaque citoyen a droit à un procès équitable devant un jury impartial et sans "à priori"! Or peut-on trouver quelques personnes capables de constituer un jury populaire n'ayant pas déjà son intime conviction face à la médiatisation de l'affaire ? Comment trouver un jury neutre et objectif ? Trop d'éléments du dossier sont déjà connus, médiatisés, déformés et enfin, trop de gens ont déjà tirés leurs propres conclusions sans la moindre connaissance en matière d'enquête criminelle ou en ce qui concerne le dossier même de l'affaire McCann. Pourra-t-on parler, alors, de procès équitable ?"

In fact, could the parents' lawyers not play on a fundamental right of the accusation? A principle well known in law is that all people are presumed innocent while there is no proof of guilt. Every citizen has the right to a fair trial before a jury and without presumption of guilt. Is it possible to find a few people capable of making up a jury, who have not already made up their minds because of the media coverage of the case? How can a jury be found which is neutral and objective? Too much evidence in the prosecution file is already known, through the media, distorted and finally too many people have already drawn their own conclusions without the slightest knowledge of the processes of criminal investigation or of those concerning the police file on the McCann case. Can we then speak of a fair trial?

(I have translated some of the French quite loosely. Please feel free to improve on my version!)

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Maddie: New sketch reveals face of kidnapper suspect.

(Images above from left to right: sketch of man seen in roadside cafe in Belgium, August 2007, with a child who looked like Madeleine; composite image of Belgian sighting and latest suspect; sketch of latest suspect. )

The News of the World was the first with the news of the new suspect in the Madeleine McCann case.

Granny Gail Cooper, 50, was staying just 600 YARDS from the McCann family's Portuguese holiday flat when she had THREE separate chilling encounters with the moustachioed mystery man."

Mrs Cooper's sightings of the, "creepy man," were on April 20th and April 22nd.

Jane Tanner, friend of the McCanns, who was on holiday with them and who described a man she claimed to have seen carrying a child at around 9.10pm has commented on the latest sketch.

"Jane has now told the McCanns: "The man in the new suspect picture strongly resembles the person I saw on May 3rd."

Yet Jane's previous descriptions ranged from a, "man carrying a bundle that could have been a child," to a very precise description of the way the man was carrying a child in, "distinguishable," pyjamas just like the ones Madeleine was said to have been wearing on the evening she disappeared. The sketch drawn from Jane's description did not have a face as Jane said it was too dark to make out his features, but now she can identify a man with a very, "distinguishable," moustache!

On the same day that Mrs Cooper first saw them man as he was walking alone along the beach in the rain, the man who, "..made my blood run cold," turned up on her doorstep, saying that he was collecting money for an orphanage. She was very suspicious of him and if the New of the World is correct, her feelings were spot on.

"We can confirm the orphanage does NOT exist and that there is no evidence of the fatal car crash. Mrs Cooper saw the man a third time, two days later on April 22, as she lunched with her husband Jonathan at Bar Habana on the beach."

The NOTW can confirm that the orphanage does not exist? So, how about this Daily Mail report from September 7th, 2007?

Daily Mail 8th September 2007

"Nor is it the initially well-meaning, but now ill-advisedly slick publicity campaign being masterminded by failed Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate and party activist Justine McGuinness - a freelance PR who recently had to be dissuaded from arranging a photocall for Kate McCann at a Portuguese orphanage."

Would that be the orphanage that doesn't exist?

We now have a suspect who looks remarkably like the late George Harrison and yet another witness who is a health care worker. How come so many of these witnesses work for the health service? The woman who spotted a child in Morocco was a health care worker, as was the woman who spotted the child at the roadside cafe in Belgium. Maybe there was a special offer from Thompson's or some other tour company for health care professionals during April and May 2007 and Europe and North Africa were crawling with them. By any kind of law of averages, would most of the sightings be by people who worked in health care otherwise? Maybe just another of those funny things, eh Gerry?

(See images at top of post. The image on the left is of the man seen at a roadside cafe in Belgium in August 2007 with a child who looked like Madeleine. The image on the right is a sketch of the latest suspect. In the middle is a composite with the latest sketch superimposed on the sketch of the man seen in Belgium)

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Government ready for Wilders' film fall-out

Protest against the Danish cartoons, London February 2006

Friday 18 January 2008

Government security experts have drawn up a 20-page document detailing how to deal with the expected fall-out of the anti-Koran film being made by MP Geert Wilders, the Volkskrant reports on Friday.

The paper says the document, marked 'state secret' has been circulated to need-to-know ministers only.

There are also instructions for diplomatic staff so that they will be ready to deal with protests and embassy evacuation plans have been drawn up, the paper says.

Ambassadors in Islamic countries are currently talking to their contacts about the film. While stressing that freedom of speech is an important in the Netherlands, they are also making it clear that Wilders’ opinions are not shared by the government, the paper says.

The film is due to be screened at the end of the month.



Whether the Wilders' film is aired on TV, Wilders' web site or YouTube, I guess we can expect to see the Islamic hordes taking to the streets of Amsterdam and possibly other cities in the Netherlands, as well as cities in Islamic states. We can expect to see those hordes burning flags and effigies and torching embassies. Those who would deny freedom of speech and opinion to others are not usually slow to express their hatred with the confidence their religion gives them to threaten and to kill in the name of that religion.

Wilders' film, in my opinion, will seek to show that embedded at the very heart of the Muslim religion is hatred for all people of other faiths and clear instructions from the Prophet Mohammed to annihilate any and all who do not bow in submission to Allah.

Video of Wafa Sultan in which she talks about a, "A clash between civilisation and backwardness."

Wafa Sultan, "Terrorism and Islam."

(Wafa Sultan is a psychologist who lives in Los Angeles.)

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Geert Wilders receives death threats over film about the Qur'An

"Dutch member of parliament Geert Wilders is working on a provocative tv movie on the Qur'an. It is Mr Wilders' next step in his fight in what he sees as highly dangerous islam. He recently pleaded for a ban of the Qur'an, which he calls fascist. Wilders compared the Holy Book of Islam to Hitler's Mein Kampf. The politician says his film shows similarities with Submission, a film made in 2004 by Theo van Gogh and Ayaan Hirsi Ali."

Geert Wilders has received as many as 40 death threats in a single day and is now under 24 hours/day security.

"December 21, 2007 - San Francisco, CA - - Dutch MP and leader of Holland's "Party for Freedom," Geert Wilders, is being denied his right to freedom of expression by a coalition of Islamists and leftists who wish to stop the production of his upcoming film, which takes a critical look at Islam. Mr. Wilders has been the object of death threats for years made by extremist Muslims - he sometimes receives as many as 40 in a single day. As a result, he must have 24 hour security and is being forced to live under near house arrest in his own country.

The threats on Mr. Wilders' life must be taken seriously, they are real and ongoing. The inciteful actions of his opponents - including those who have now started an anti-Wilders ["Stop the de Verwildering"] movement, outrageously labeling him as "evil," - are putting his life in even further jeopardy.

In November 2004 Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh was assassinated while on his way to work by Mohammed Bouyeri, the son of a Moroccan Muslim immigrant family. During his trial Bouyeri claimed that he brutally murdered van Gogh, shooting and then nearly decapitating him with a butcher knife because he thought van Gogh's film, "Submission," slandered Islam. Bouyeri stated that the penalty for such an offense must be death."

Wilders film, which will be about 10 minutes long will analyse particular parts of the Qur'An, which he claims are encouraging the radicalisation of young Muslim men and encouraging terrorist activity. If no TV company in the Netherlands will show the film, it will be available on Wilders' party's web site and on YouTube.

"Wilders hopes the film will demonstrate that the Koran, the holy book revered by Muslims, is a "terrible and fascist" book that continues to inspire people to commit atrocious acts. The cabinet voiced its concerns last November about possible repercussions that the film could have in the Netherlands and abroad." articles

In response to the proposed film by Wilders, the Muslim ex-Ambassador to the Netherlands, Noor Farida Ariffin said this week, "The ‘Film of Geert Wilders will unavoidably cause extreme violence' and 'if the film is shown the Dutch can expect numbers of dead Dutch people'. 'The uproar about the Danish cartoons will be nothing in comparison"

Dutch Labour Party politician, Bouchra Ismaili, is quoted in Pipeline as saying that the native Dutch people are the foreigners in the Netheralnds!

January 16, 2008 - San Francisco, CA - - The European press is reporting an incident in which Moroccan born Dutch councilwoman Bouchra Ismaili responded to an email query by a native born citizen, suggesting that he, "drop dead convert to are the foreigners here."

The email sender Jos Parbleu, told Holland's Algemeen Dagblad newspaper that he was "shocked," adding that "this is a sign of what a disastrous situation has hit the country."

Ismaili said she wrote the comments "in a surge of anger" after hearing someone yell anti-Moroccan comments during the day."

On an internet forum, a Dutch woman wrote this,

"In an unbelievable tirade of hatred in response to an e-mail she received from a Dutch person who wrote nothing more literally than quoting what two fundi muslims had said: 'YOU DUTCH DESERVE A HUGE BOMB ATTACK'.
Therefore keep your eyes on The Netherlands around the 28th of January when Geert Wilders' film/video will be shown wherein 'The Big Bad Wolf 'Allah' of the Quran and the horrific effects he and 'his messengerboy Muhammed' have - worldwide.

And please come and help us should the need arise to defeat the Islam hordes - and hit them back home to wherever they came from."

Watch out for Wilders' film. Remember, if Dutch TV will not handle it because of threats of Dutch people dying as a consequence, the film will be available on Wilders' Freedom Party's web site and on YouTube.

What kind of religion is so sensitive to criticism that people are threatened and people are killed for taking a critical look at it? Surely in the 21st Century, people of faith could be responding with, "My faith is not shaken by your criticism." Not Islam, though. A few cartoons and its loyal followers are out on the streets, burning flags and torching buildings. The religion of peace?

Iran chops off hands and feet of five robbers.

"Using strict enforcement of Islamic law, the judicial authorities in southern Iran amputated the right hands and left feet of five convicted robbers this week."

Daily Mail January 11th, 2008

"The double amputations came as it was revealed there have been 23 public executions since the start of the year as part of what the government said was an effort to "deter other troublemakers". The amputations were believed to be the first in Iran for many years. The courts ordered the right hand and left foot cut off, in line with ancient custom so that it is difficult, if not impossible, for the condemned to walk, even with a cane or crutches"

So, not really into rehabilitation, then, the wonderful Islamic state of Iran? I heard on Radio 4 on Monday, in "Beyond Belief," a Muslim man describing Islamic Law as God's Law. Well, it is surely a savage God who does not allow for a person to change, to redeem himself. How does the man who cannot walk, even with a cane or crutches earn a living? Is that man condemned to beg on the streets for the rest of his life? I don't suppose the Islamic state will provide him with a wheelchair, a prosthetic foot, or a car adapted for his use to get to a job of work.

So, if the five robbers owe a debt to society, as some might say they do, how do they ever repay that debt? I guess their only use to the society of Iran may be as that deterrent to other troublemakers, though I would doubt it. It's that old adage I think, "Rather be hung for a sheep as a lamb," and as in England hundreds of years ago when people could be hanged for stealing a lamb, the robber who knows that capture may result in double amputation, may just decide that he might as well kill any witnesses.

While I believe that people who commit serious crime should be punished, I also believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to change and to show that they can become a useful member of society.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Retardo3 Do it Again!

A brief quote from a Spanish newspaper today.

Madeleine is not in Morocco or Bosnia or Belgium and she is not at the bottom of the lake. She's in Spain (again!)....or maybe Belgium, according to the latest theory from Metodo3, the agency hired by the McCanns.

"The private detective agency from Barcelona Method 3, contracted by Gerry and Kate McCann, are investigating thoroughly the Costa Blanca, from Valencia to Alicante. According to Francisco Marco, head of Method 3, Madeleine was selected by "spotters" in circles of paedophiles and then abducted "to order". She was later carried via Morocco to Spain or Belgium, a country with a sad record on child prostitution. "

(The above unashamedly lifted from the DM forum, with thanks to, "Ern.")

El Semanal Digital

Well, we've recently had hordes of witnesses turning up after eight months, claiming to have seen Madeleine in the clutches of Robert Murat's girlfriend, to have seen Bundleman, or to have seen a child just like Madeleine somewhere in the world. All seem to have been dismissed by the PJ as not credible or have been investigated and not useful and the body in the lake was reported and dismissed some time ago. I suppose if you're being paid £50,000/month, you've got to come up with something, especially if your company has moved to plush new offices! And well, the PJ may be arriving in the UK any day, or if the rumour on the DM forum is true, the PJ flew into Birmingham airport today, Tuesday, around lunchtime. So, I guess there might be a bit of panic brewing and the need to come up with something!

Let's hope the PJ will be interviewing the Tapas Crew very soon. Two new arguidos could be named? Wonder who? I'll put my Pennies Jar on Jane Tanner and Russell O'Brien, based on JT's changing stories, the tapas staff member saying she never left the table and Russell O'Brien's having been absent from the table most of the evening and if JT is involved, then I don't see how he could not be, or at least not know about it. So, folks, there's probably about a fiver in my Pennies Jar. Wonder if the local bookies if offering odds!

The Ocean Club Apartment clips on YouTube

Well worth watching. Video clips of the apartment, the path where Jane Tanner said she saw Bundleman and the route to the Oean club and the tapas bar.

Ocean Club Apartment Clips

New Video on YouTube: "Madeleine McCann - The McCann Infantile Memory"

Madeleine at christmas 2006

A lovely, but very sad new video.

Madeleine McCann - The McCann Infantile Memory

Worth watching.

Eurojust confirms request to re-interview the Tapas group

From the blog written by Paulo Reis, Gazeta Digital, 15the January, 2008

"A spokesman from Eurojust confirmed to The Press Association that Portuguese authorities made a formal request to the European Union’s judicial cooperation agency to help in the process of questioning again the group of British citizens that was at Ocean Club, with Gerry and Kate McCann, when Madeleine vanished.

A PJ team is scheduled to fly to UK, soon, to follow the questioning by Leicester police, according to Press Association. Eurojust role is to help investigators and prosecutors in European Union for information and assistance in crime cases involving more than one country."

European Judicial Cooperation Unit (EUROJUST)

Gazeta Digital, 14th January 2008.

No evidence of Canary islands connection to the Madeleine case.

"The line of inquiry in Madeleine’s case remains the same and is focused in the group of British citizens that were with the child’s family. There is no indication that the person arrested in the Spanish Islands has been in Portugal”, according to the same source."

Also on 14th January, Paulo Reis asserts that two more people could be named official suspects, arguidos, and that without diplomatic intervention the McCanns would not have been allowed to leave Portugal in September, but would have been arrested and charged.

"If it wasn’t the diplomatic intervention, the McCann wouldn’t be authorized to leave Portugal and would have been charged and arrested on September”, a source from Polícia Judiciária said. With the bureaucratic aspects for a new questioning of the Tapas Group finished, Police admits that two more formal suspects could be named, “if the questioning takes place as we expect."

Paulo Reis quotes a police source as saying that the McCanns publicity campaign was intended to draw attention from Praia da Luz, where, the PJ believe the answer to the disappearance of Madeleine MCann is to be found.

"Clear intention

The campaign set up in the Media, since the beginning, was planned and had a specific intention: to take the case out from Praia da Luz,” the PJ source said. This intention was already clear months ago, on July last year, when detectives in charge of the investigation told the Portuguese Press that “all clues related to foreign countries have been investigated and dismissed”. At the time, it was also clear to PJ that “the key to solve the case was at Praia da Luz.”

There has been speculation on vaious internet forums about the possible date for the arrival of the PJ in the UK. There has also been speculation that no one is coming, but according to Gazeta Digital and The Peterborough Telegraph, (quoting the Press Association) it has been confirmed that Eurojust has been approached and that the PJ will be arriving on our shores pretty soon!

Peterborough Telegraph

Portuguese investigators seeking to re-interview friends of Madeleine McCann's parents, from Leicestershire, are in contact with the UK authorities via an intermediary.Portuguese police seeking to re-interview the "Tapas Seven" are reportedly in contact with the British authorities via Eurojust.

They are understood to be poised to fly to the UK to sit in on fresh questioning of the friends by British police.

The seven were on holiday in Praia da Luz in the Algarve with Kate and Gerry McCann when their daughter vanished last year."

Monday, 14 January 2008

Gerry McCann; here's another funny thing!

Well, Gerry there are lots of funny things about the story of how your daughter came to disappear on Mya 3rd, 2007. I'm not going to ask you about any of those at the moment. I'm just going to concentrate here on your comparison of the ways in which missing children cases are dealt with in the US and in Europe. To quote from the recent entry in your blog.

Clearly Europe has a lot to learn from the US and there has to be change in practice and legislation about how missing children are investigated. We will continue to campaign to effect change in Europe, in the hope that it will become a safer place for our children."

Leaving aside for the moment your comment about a safer place for our children, if you want to campaign for change in Europe, why not support an organisation that already exists and is campaigning for a Europe-wide approach to the problem? You really didn't need to go jetting off to the US. There is already an organisation which is affiliated to the Washington organisation which you visited.


Missing Children Europe is the European Federation for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children. Missing Children Europe has 21 member NGOs from 15 countries of the EU. These 21 NGOs work every day to prevent and fight the sexual exploitation of children and assist parents and investigators confronted with the disappearance of a child.

As a platform regrouping these 21 NGOs, Missing Children Europe has as primary goals to:

  1. share good practices among the members,
  2. represent the members towards the European institutions,
  3. assure a European presence at the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington.

The disappearance and sexual exploitation of children is a global phenomenon, which touches an increasingly worrying but undefined number of children. A European and international approach is essential to tackle the problem efficiently.

See Gerry? A European and international approach. And what about this, Gerry?

"Assure a European presence at ICMEC

Missing Children Europe is the regional representative of the global mouvement of the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington."

And where this organisation is?

"Where we are

Missing Children Europe represents NGOs from 15 EU Member States: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Romania and the United Kingdom.

The General Secretariat of Missing Children Europe is based in Brussels."

So, even if you had wanted to go to the hub of the enterprise, Brussels is a bit closer to Portugal than is Washington. Missing Children Europe, as you will read above is the regional representative of the international centre based in Washington.

So, Gerry, since there is already a European campaign for Europe-wide change, why do you think it's necessary for you to set up some kind of separate campaign? Why not just support the existing work?

And, oh dear, Gerry! Making Europe a safer place for our children? So, they do things differently in the US, do they when parents leave their children alone in an unlocked apartment? What do they do? Have some kind of alarm system in every home, hotel room, holiday apartment etc, that lets you know when your children, whom you have left to fend for themselves, are being abducted? Maybe a red light flashes on your mobile phone while you're sitting there at dinner sending text messages?

Well, Gerry, just two bits of advice I'd like to share with you.

1) Children are generally much safer when they are not left alone. So, maybe that should be the basis of your campaign.

2) No need for your European campaign. Just contact Missing Children Europe who, I am sure, will appreciate your support, especially as you are so good at fund-raising and you do appear to have contacts in high places.

Here it is again, Gerry, just in case you missed it!

And Gerry, here's some good news for you, a way in which you can help, since you want to campaign for change in Europe. International Missing Children Day, May 25th.

Why not give some publicity to this organisation on your site, Gerry, just in case your readers don't know that there is already a Europe-based organisation for missing and exploited children, campaigning for that Europe-Wide approach?

Friday, 11 January 2008

MySpace subpoened over suicide teen

GRIEVING: Tina and Ron Meier sit in daughter Megan's bedroom in a suburb of St. Louis. Megan killed herself last fall.
(Stephanie S. Cordle / St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

L.A. grand jury issues subpoenas in Web suicide case

"In a novel approach, prosecutors are looking at charging a woman who posed as a boy and sent cruel messages to teen with defrauding MySpace.
By Scott Glover and P.J. Huffstutter, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
January 9, 2008
A federal grand jury in Los Angeles has begun issuing subpoenas in the case of a Missouri teenager who hanged herself after being rejected by the person she thought was a 16-year-old boy she met on MySpace, sources told The Times.

The case set off a national furor when it was revealed that the "boyfriend" was really a neighbor who was the mother of one of the girl's former friends.

Local and federal authorities in Missouri looked into the circumstances surrounding 13-year-old Megan Meier's 2006 death in the town of Dardenne Prairie, an upper-middle-class enclave of about 7,400 people, located northwest of St. Louis.

But after months of investigation, no charges were filed against Lori Drew for her alleged role in the hoax. Prosecutors in Missouri said they were unable to find a statute under which to pursue a criminal case.

Prosecutors in the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles, however, are exploring the possibility of charging Drew with defrauding the MySpace social networking website by allegedly creating the false account, according to the sources, who insisted on anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the case.

The sources said prosecutors are looking at federal wire fraud and cyber fraud statutes as they consider the case. Prosecutors believe they have jurisdiction because MySpace is headquartered in Beverly Hills, the sources said.

It's still unclear who created the fictitious account. In a police report, Drew told authorities she, with the aid of a temporary employee, "instigated and monitored" a fake profile prior to Megan's suicide, "for the sole purpose of communicating" with the girl and to see what the girl was saying about Drew's daughter.

The grand jury issued several subpoenas last week, including one to MySpace and others to "witnesses in the case," sources said. One source did not know who else had received subpoenas; the other declined to provide that information.

Thomas P. O'Brien, the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, declined to comment. Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for O'Brien, also declined to comment.

MySpace officials could not be reached for comment, nor could Drew or her husband, Curt, be reached.

Attorney Jim Briscoe, who represents Lori Drew, said: "We have no knowledge of . . . anything dealing with a grand jury anywhere dealing with this case. . . . The only comment I have is we can't comment on rumors from anonymous sources."

The news came as a shock to Tina and Ron Meier, Megan's parents. Both said they were unaware of the grand jury and had not been contacted by the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.

"If MySpace is considered the victim, fine. I don't care at this point," said Tina Meier, 37. "We've been begging for someone -- anyone -- to pick up this case. If the Drews can be charged -- and even get the chance to be convicted -- it would be a day I could be happy with."

Cyber-bullying has become an increasingly creepy reality, with the anonymity of video games, message boards and other online forums offering an outlet for cruel taunts.

Former federal prosecutor Brian C. Lysaght said such a prosecution would be "not as much of a reach as it might appear at first glance." In recent years, he said, Congress has passed a series of statutes that make criminal conduct involving the Internet federal offenses.

Still, it could be difficult to draw the line between constitutionally protected free speech and conduct that is illegal.

Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said the idea of using a fraud charge to tackle the unusual case was "an interesting and novel approach."

"But I doubt it's really going to lead to the type of punishment people really want to see, which is this woman being held responsible for this girl's death," she said.

Levenson, a former federal prosecutor, said that if the grand jury brings an indictment, it could raise 1st Amendment issues and questions about how to fairly enforce such a law on the Internet, where pseudo-identities are common.

"This may be a net that catches a lot of people," she said.

Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney who specializes in privacy and free speech issues for the legal advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the potential of this case to set legal precedent criminalizing online speech is worrying.

"The right to speak freely online is hugely important. Whistle-blowers create pseudonyms," Opsahl said. "So do many people who anonymously report on corporate or government bad practices."

In the neighborhood where the Meiers and the Drews live, protecting the 1st Amendment has not been the main concern.

Teenagers and furious neighbors have protested in front of the Drews' one-story, white house. Virtual vigilantes have posted the Drews' home address, phone numbers, e-mail addresses and photos on websites such as

Tina and Ron Meier, high school sweethearts, have struggled to deal with their daughter's death; the couple is getting divorced. Their youngest daughter, Allison, now 11, splits her time between the two.

The mounting tension and heated emotions worried community leaders enough that they are having the St. Charles County Sheriff's Department regularly patrol the suburban neighborhood. Late last year, Dardenne Prairie's Board of Aldermen passed a law that makes cyber harassment a misdemeanor -- with a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail or a $500 fine or both for each violation.

A number of area communities have passed similar measures. And Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt pulled together an Internet task force, which put the final touches on a proposal Tuesday that would make it a felony crime for adults who use online technology to harass children.

Times staff writers Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Ted Rohrlich contributed to this report."

(Los Angeles Times 9th January, 2007)

I was very pleased to read the above article in the Los Angeles Times. Cyber-bullying and grooming for sex have become major problems for young people online. My Space and Bebo have given young people opportunities to create an online presence, to stay in touch with friends and to make new friends, but they have also created opportunities for the bullies and the emotional inadequates perverts sitting by their computers who cannot form meaningful relationships in the real world. These hosting companies need to take responsibility for and more control over the content of their hosted sites. The young person presenting herself on Bebo as, "Sexy*****," may be the vulnerable girl with learning difficulties who always has a teaching assistant with her in the classroom. She may be flattered by the messages she receives from males who sign up as her friends, but does she know who they are? Do parents know who their children are in touch with and possibly being influenced by?

The brilliant computer you have provided for your daughter, may be a wonderful way to help her with her school work. It may also be creating a way into your home and your life, over which you have no control and which could change the lives of your family for ever. So, what do we do? Actually, I don't know! The internet is a wonderful resource, and I do feel that being able to set up a personal web site can help a young person to grow in confidence and self-esteem. The problem is how to avoid/stop the bullies and the perverts who also find the internet a wonderful resource for being able to contact and influence young people under an assumed identity. My Space and Bebo can do something by taking responsibility, voluntarily or perhaps they will need to be forced into it. The prospect of huge financial penalties might be one way of encouraging self-policing for these online hosting companies. I shall be interested to see the results of the Grand Jury subpeonas in the tragic case of
13-year-old Megan Meier

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Vanity Fair: Unanswered Prayers.

Interior of the bedroom at apartment 5A, where Madeleine and the twins slept.

Viewing the front page headlines last night on Sky News web site, several of the dailies were leading with Gerry and Kate McCann's regrets about the events of the evening in May 2007 when their daughter Madeleine disappeared. This looked like new news and there was speculation of various online forums that the timing of the expressed regrets had something to do with the imminent visit to the UK of Portuguese police officers to re-interview the seven friends the McCanns went on holiday with. Or maybe, as some suggested, it was an attempt to regain public sympathy and bring the cash rolling in for the depleted Find Madeleine fund.

The UK dailies were, in fact, quoting an article in Vanity Fair magazine about an interview Kate and Gerry gave in October 2007. It is not unusual for magazines like Vanity Fair to have such a long period between interview and publication.

The newspapers that were leading with Gerry's regrets seem to have journalists who have done very selective reading of the Vanity Fair feature.

Vanity Fair

I wish I hadn’t gone to the tapas bar. I wish I’d stayed in the apartment that night. I wish I’d stayed in the room when I checked on her five minutes longer,” Gerry recalls thinking in the days that followed his child’s disappearance."

Later in the interview, though, it seems that Gerry is not quite so regretful.

On the couple’s return, there was further pain to contend with. More than 17,000 people had signed a petition suggesting that Leicestershire social services investigate them for leaving their three small children completely alone in the villa.

At the time we did it, it was not irresponsible!” Gerry snaps. It is the one subject on which he is quite defensive, arguing first one way, then conceding the opposite: “Of course we feel guilty about not having been there, and that is just something we have to deal with for the rest of our lives. You are not asking anything we don’t think about on a daily basis. We live this 24 hours a day.”

So, Gerry said he wished he had not gone to the tapas bar, but thought it was not irresponsible to do so? I guess there is some kind of logic there. He's not admitting to having been in error, in fact in other interviews Gerry said he had been assured by Social Services that his behaviour had been well within the bounds of, "reasonable parenting." He didn't say he wished he hadn't left the kids alone and he didn't say he wished he had hired a babysitter, just that he wished he hadn't gone to the tapas bar.

Clarence Mitchell was interviewed by Jon Gaunt of The Sun and Talksport, on Wednesday 9th January. Clarence was asked if Kate and Gerry thought it had been wrong to leave the children alone. The answer was that Kate and Gerry were sorry that they were not with her when she was taken and that they had made a mistake on the night. What mistake? Not being there? Well, all we have is that Kate and Gerry were sorry they were not there when Madeleine was taken. Strange! If Madeleine was abducted, surely this would not have happened if they had been there at that moment? And a mistake on the night? What about all the other nights when, by their own admission, Kate and Gerry left the children on their own?

Clarence Mitchell talks to Jon Gaunt

The Vanity Fair article is a very long one and ploughing one's way through, it might be easy to miss at least one contradiction to reports elsewhere. Herein lies one of them; Gerry talking about what was found at the apartment when Kate returned at 10pm to check on the children.

On one bed the twins lay sleeping. In the next lay only the plush cat toy Madeleine was never without."

The twins were lying together on one of the beds? Surely all other witness statements about the scene say that the twins were in cots?

From the Times Online, quoted on the web site
, The McCann Files

Silvia Batisa, head of administration at the complex, helped to comfort the family and interpret their interviews with the police: "The parents were devastated, in a panic. They wanted more police and dogs immediately. Kate said all the time, 'Please find my daughter’ and ‘Madeleine is beautiful'."
She recalled that the twins were still asleep in their two cots and there was the small, bright pink wool blanket that Madeleine likes to hold when she sleeps. "We walked out quickly so as not to wake up the twins. The parents immediately said, 'She’s been kidnapped'," said Batisa."

Considering that the interview was done in October, 2007, it seems strange to see that there is reference to the window of the apartment having been, "jemmied," when very early on the police and the Mark Warner management both stated that the neither the shutters nor the window had been tampered with.

There is mention of Madleine's distinctive right eye, the coloboma. This quite rare feature would make Madeleine immediately recognisable.

Although initially reluctant, the McCanns finally informed the media of Madeleine’s unique right eye—a risky revelation. Whoever had taken the child now held a universally recognizable little girl.

Gerry understood that. But, he says, the iris “is Madeleine’s only true distinctive feature. Certainly we thought it was possible that this could potentially hurt her or”—he grimaces—“her abductor might do something to her eye.… But in terms of marketing, it was a good ploy.

A good marketing ploy? Good God! You'd think he was selling double-glazing, not risking a child's life! And let's not forget how Kate and Gerry courted publicity, in an attmept they say, to keep Madeleine's profile high in the media.

The media were constantly sought out. Reporters followed the McCanns on trips to Washington (where then U.S. attorney general Alberto Gonzales met with the couple); to Morocco—just in case Madeleine had been taken there—where they met with Charki Draiss, director-general of national security; and to Amsterdam, where the McCanns had once lived. If the networks needed fresh footage, they would be told the exact time the McCanns might be walking to church in Praia da Luz."

Kate, having said that she would not leave Portugal witout Madeleine, she and Gerry left within a couple of days of having been made arguidos. Perhaps the lease on their rented villa had run out, but it did seem like a rather hasty exit, and well covered by the media.

"It was time to go home, Gerry decided by September 9. But not alone.When Gerry and Kate were about to go home to Britain, Gerry phoned Sky News and said, ‘We’re going home on EasyJet, be on it!’ ” recalls Esther Addley, who has written incisively about the McCanns for The Guardian."

So, that was the big news, as reported by several of the UK's daily newspapers today, Gerry's regrets or lack of them! Then there was that film...and Clarence telling folks that if they wished to contribute to the fund, they could just, "..put a cheque or anything into an envelope," and address it to the McCanns, Rothley, as many people from around the world were already doing.
There you have it folks! We've had articles about blood found in the McCanns holiday apartment and in the hired car having been identified as Madeleine's and reports that the Portuguese police will be returning soon to the UK to re-interview the seven friends of Kate and Gerry with whom they went on holiday to Praia da Luz.

We've had denials about making a movie, but an admission that the McCanns want to make a film about Madeleine's disappearance. (Listen to the Clarence interview with Jon Gaunt) And now the Vanity Fair feature. Anyone else wondering if maybe there are some attempts to distract from the important news about DNA tests, police visits and the resignation of several directors of the Find Madeleine fund?

Still, as far as the McCanns and the fund are concerned, I guess there is an upside to all this. As Clarrie said, "Every time Gerry and Kate do any media, the money comes in."

Transcript of Kate and Gerry's first interview May 25th

Photographs in and around apartment 5A and forenesic officers at work

The McCann Files