Thursday, 26 September 2013

Fiona's Disappearance: when the parents are suspected

A poster appealing for help finding Fiona

Sky News reports today that Fiona's mother, Cecile Bourgeon, has admitted that Fiona is dead following a number of blows delivered by Fiona's step-father, Berkane Maklouf. Fiona's mother had originally stated that Fiona had disappeared while she, her mother, had fallen asleep in a park in Clermont-Ferrand, in central France. Cecile Bourgeon has told police that Fiona's body is buried near Clermont-Ferrand. 

Europe1 carries a very interesting article on what the author considers to be good police procedure when parents are suspected of a crime. Published before Fiona's mother had confessed and updated today, September 26th.

Four months after the disappearance of a little girl called Fiona, aged 5, from a park in Clermont-Ferrand, investigators took her mother and her step-father in for questioning, in the course of which, they confessed. What strategies are used by investigators to get to the truth when the weight of suspicion falls on the parents in this type of case? 

Have a solid case: Criminologist Michel Roussel starts by saying, "The ideal is to be supported by a solid case and have a team of investigators who are experts in their subject. Then it's useful to have at your disposal a psychological profile of the suspects, notably by listening in, because that is a good way to understand and get a handle on the the people who are going to be questioned.  That's what the investigators did within the framework of the Fiona case. 

Don't humiliate the suspect: "The investigators work involves talking and listening, and not in judging or getting worked up," Roussel adds. To get at the truth, "you must never humiliate the suspects," the criminologist, Pierre Lamothe contributes. He stresses that, "In a case where the parents are responsible for the death of their child, their distress may be authentic." 

Don't go for a confession: when suspects are in police custody, the way in which the questions are formulated is very basic. "Don't go for a confession, but rather ask, "what do you think happened?" Michel Roussel explains. "To stop the suspect feeling guilty, it's preferable to suggest an accident or bad luck than to speak of a crime where infanticide is suspected," states this former gendarme. 

"You mustn't throw at the suspects: "tell me everything," but rather "did something happen that you did not intend?" Pierre Lamothe suggest. "In the same vein, never ask: "Did you do it?" but "Do you know how that happened?" which allows you to offer the suspect a way out. 

Carefully observe the responses: The attitude of the suspect faced with the questions is as informative as the language used. For Pierre Lamothe, "an innocent person accepts being confused and doesn't have an answer for everything. He is not hiding the truth and, in as a result, can have gaps in his memory, which is generally not the case with the guilty person, who leaps in with an explanation," he concludes. 

The above is very interesting when we look, once again, at the 48 questions that Kate McCann refused to answer after she was made an arguida in September 2007. 

1. On May 3 2007, around 22:00, when you entered the apartment, what did you see? What did you do? Where did you look? What did you touch?

2. Did you search inside the bedroom wardrobe? (she replied that she wouldn’t answer)

3. (shown 2 photographs of her bedroom wardrobe) Can you describe its contents?

4. Why had the curtain behind the sofa in front of the side window (whose photo was shown to her) been tampered with? Did somebody go behind that sofa?

5. How long did your search of the apartment take after you detected your daughter Madeleine’s disappearance?

6. Why did you say from the start that Madeleine had been abducted?

7. Assuming Madeleine had been abducted, why did you leave the twins home alone to go to the ‘Tapas’ and raise the alarm? Because the supposed abductor could still be in the apartment.

8. Why didn’t you ask the twins, at that moment, what had happened to their sister or why didn’t you ask them later on?

9. When you raised the alarm at the ‘Tapas’ what exactly did you say and what were your exact words?

10. What happened after you raised the alarm in the ‘Tapas’?

11. Why did you go and warn your friends instead of shouting from the verandah?

12. Who contacted the authorities?

13. Who took place in the searches?

14. Did anyone outside of the group learn of Madeleine’s disappearance in those following minutes?

15. Did any neighbour offer you help after the disappearance?

16. What does 'we let her down' mean?

17. Did Jane tell you that night that she’d seen a man with a child?

18. How were the authorities contacted and which police force was alerted?

19. During the searches, with the police already there, where did you search for Maddie, how and in what way?

20. Why did the twins not wake up during that search or when they were taken upstairs?

21. Who did you phone after the occurrence?

22. Did you call Sky News?

23. Did you know the danger of calling the media, because it could influence the abductor?

24. Did you ask for a priest?

25. By what means did you divulge Madeleine’s features, by photographs or by any other means?

26. Is it true that during the searches you remained seated on Maddie’s bed without moving?

27. What was your behaviour that night?

28. Did you manage to sleep?

29. Before travelling to Portugal did you make any comment about a foreboding or a bad feeling?

30. What was Madeleine’s behaviour like?

31. Did Maddie suffer from any illness or take any medication?

32. What was Madeleine’s relationship like with her brother and sister?

33. What was Madeleine’s relationship like with her brother and sister, friends and school mates?

34. As for your professional life, in how many and which hospitals have you worked?

35. What is your medical specialty?

36. Have you ever done shift work in any emergency services or other services?

37. Did you work every day?

38. At a certain point you stopped working, why?

39. Are the twins difficult to get to sleep? Are they restless and does that cause you uneasiness?

40. Is it true that sometimes you despaired with your children’s behaviour and that left you feeling very uneasy?

41. Is it true that in England you even considered handing over Madeleine’s custody to a relative?

42. In England, did you medicate your children? What type of medication?

43. In the case files you were SHOWN CANINE forensic testing films, where you can see them marking due to detection of the scent of human corpse and blood traces, also human, and only human, as well as all the comments of the technician in charge of them. After watching and after the marking of the scent of corpse in your bedroom beside the wardrobe and behind the sofa, pushed up against the sofa wall, did you say you couldn’t explain any more than you already had?

44. When the sniffer dog also marked human blood behind the sofa, did you say you couldn’t explain any more than you already had?

45. When the sniffer dog marked the scent of corpse coming from the vehicle you hired a month after the disappearance, did you say you couldn’t explain any more than you already had?

46. When human blood was marked in the boot of the vehicle, did you say you couldn’t explain any more than you already had?

47. When confronted with the results of Maddie’s DNA, whose analysis was carried out in a British laboratory, collected from behind the sofa and the boot of the vehicle, did you say you couldn’t explain any more than you already had?

48. Did you have any responsibility or intervention in your daughter’s disappearance?

The Portuguese police had what they thought was a solid case: the two English sniffer dogs had detected human blood and cadaver odour in various places associated with the McCanns and in the car they hired weeks after Madeleine's disappearance. It is probably more difficult, though, to be subtle with questions when the people being interviewed have to have every question and their answers translated.

Perhaps the Portuguese police also had the notion that they might not get a second chance to question the two arguidos, which did turn out to be the case when just a couple of days later, Kate and Gerry hot-footed it home to the UK.

Fiona's mother and step-father attracted a great deal of sympathy for their plight: Fiona had been playing with her younger sibling in a public park and she just disappeared. So, maybe Kate and Gerry would have attracted a lot less suspicion if their daughter had been said to have disappeared from a crowded beach while her mother was snoozing! Much more credible than an abduction from an apartment with no evidence and only one witness whose memory of the event changed with stunning regularity!

Fiona is just another child who was harmed by those who should have protected her, and who faked an abduction to cover up their crime. Too many of these little ones being harmed by those who should protect them from harm.

Hoping for justice for that other child, Madeleine, who was gone before we knew her name, but somehow I'm not expecting anyone to confess.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Madeleine McCann: Stephen Birch Press Release

I don't have a source for this, as yet. Will investigate later. Stephen Birch is the South African who reported that he had investigated Robert Murat's driveway in Praia da Luz with ground-penetrating radar and found an anomaly that he thought could be Madeleine McCann's body. Read the details here. (McCann Files)

Press release follows:

As of 10.30am this morning I received a call from Portugal advising me that Robert Murat has consented to me digging up his driveway to ascertain whether the remains of MADELEINE MCCANN lie buried beneath it. A formal letter will be emailed to me today. Mr Murats attorney has advised that as part of the negotiations, Mr Murat will undertake to withdraw all charges against me for trespassing. Legal documentation would need to be formalized. A third party is currently acting as an intermiadiary in the negotiations and will own the media rights to the entire operation. They have advised me that they will put a helicopter in the air above Murats house to protect the airspace from rival newspaper groups. It is estimated that the excavation of the Murat driveway will be viewed by over 1 billion people over a week...

Press release ends

Ground radar scan, taken by Stephen Birch, showing area below the Murat driveway

Image courtesy of McCann files. (Link above)

Saturday, 14 September 2013

The Madeleine McCann Case: Gonçalo Amaral's "Outrageous Claims."

Image from the paper edition of The Sun of today's date, Friday September 13th.

Gonçalo Amaral's "outrageous claims."

Claim One

Amaral suggested Maddie died in the apartment - most likely near the sofa and maybe as the result of a tragic accident.

Pages 37 and 38 of the PJ's final report on the investigation describes the places where two sniffer dogs, which were trained by Martin Grime, at that time working with South Yorkshire Police, alerted to human blood and cadaver odour. Eddie, an Enhanced Victim Recovery Dog, was trained to alert to human cadaver odour and human blood; Keela was trained to alert to human blood. Both dogs alerted behind the sofa in the lounge of apartment 5A and only Eddie alerted to an area in the McCanns' bedroom inside a wardrobe. 

Until they were brought in to work on the McCann case, Eddie and Keela had a 100% record of accuracy. If they were right with their alerts in this case, then someone died in apartment 5A and since there are no recorded deaths there and Madeleine McCann disappeared into thin air from that place, a reasonable conclusion would be that Madeleine died in the apartment and that at some point her body was either in or near the wardrobe and perhaps behind the sofa. Eddie the cadaver dog also alerted to an area of flower bed outside the apartment.

If Madeleine is alive, who died in apartment 5A? The following video cannot be embedded for copyright reasons.

Claim Two

The cop claimed that Kate and Gerry McCann staged a "fake abduction," concocted a story with the Tapas Seven and were involved in concealing the body. 

If Eddie and Keela were right about the odours of blood and cadaver in the apartment, then something happened to the body the odours came from. Either the "abductor" took away a dead body or the McCanns concealed it, with or without help from the Tapas Seven, but in my opinion, this would have been very difficult without the help or at least the knowledge of at least one or two of the McCanns' friends. The only evidence for an abduction is Jane Tanner's "sighting" of a man carrying a child and the fact that Madeleine was said to have been tucked up in her bed and she was found to have disappeared when Kate McCann went to check on the children at 10pm. 

Claim Three

Amaral accused the McCanns of negligence over their children. 

The McCanns have admitted to leaving three children, all under the age of four, in an unlocked apartment, in a foreign country, every night for 5 nights while they were dining at the Tapas Bar. They stated that they checked on the children every half hour. Not something I'd have done and the McCanns left the apartment unlocked even after being informed about a spate of burglaries in the area. Negligence? Do you reckon that if I left my 2 year-old grandson in bed, left the door unlocked and nipped over to the pub that would be alright if I checked every half hour? What about if something happened to him? It takes a couple of minutes for a small child to choke to death. If my grandson wandered out and met with an accident, would it be my fault? Would I have been negligent? I think my local police and social services would probably conclude negligence. 

Claim Four

He inferred a fund to finance a search for Maddie was a cynical plot to get rich

I don't recall that inference from the book, but the fund was used to make two payments on the McCanns' mortgage.

See: "Madeleine's Fund - Analysis of Accounts to 31/03/2012" By Enid O'Dowd FCA 

Claim Five

In his book, just days after the Portuguese cops declared the McCanns were not suspects, Amaral said there were no signs of a break-in at the flat.

Although Kate and Gerry McCann were reported by family and friends to have telephoned them in the early hours to say that the shutters of Madeleine's room had been "jemmied" and the window "forced open," John Hill, manager of the ocean Club, stated that "there was no sign that anyone had forced their way in while the McCanns ate at the tapas restaurant 200 yards away." (24

And who else said there were no signs of a break-in? As reported in the Irish Independent of 25th October 2007, none other than Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for the McCanns.

THE spokesman for the family of Madeleine McCann has reversed a statement made in the early days of the search for the missing child.
Speaking to RTE's 'Prime Time', Clarence Mitchell said she could "easily" have been kidnapped by an abductor who did not leave the trail of a break-in.

However, in the early part of the hunt, friends and family members told journalists that the shutter on the apartment where the McCanns were staying had been broken.

Mr Mitchell made his comments when questioned by a 'Prime Time' team in a report on the disappearance to be screened tomorrow. "There was no evidence of a break-in," said Mr Mitchell.

Straight from the official horse's mouth folks! Clarence Mitchell confirmed what Snr Amaral said, "No signs of a break-in."

Claim Six

He suggested Jane Tanner, who described seeing an abductor carrying a small child, colluded with the McCanns to describe what Maddie was wearing.

Jane Tanner's descriptions of what she saw have changed quite dramatically from her first statement, which was rather vague.

Jane’s Tanner statements have changed until now, two times, first account was: The man, looking Caucasian, was wearing beige trousers, black shoes and was covered in a thick jacket. He was slim, his height was 5'7" and with dark short straight hair. According to her words, he was carrying "a child or an object that could have been taken as a child wrapped in a blanket" or “bundle of clothes”. He was going towards the church.

In her second report in BBC Panorama’s documentary she morphed the description of the abductor, from a white man to a 5'8'' tall swarthy Mediterranean looking man with “quite a lot of dark, reasonably-long-to-the-neck hair”; the vagueness description of the bundle was changed to the certainty of a girl in pink pyjamas.

According to her statement, the child was wearing pink pyjamas, seemed to be asleep and was barefoot. This was the detail that she found the strangest “…and I can remember thinking oh that parent is not a particularly good parent, they've not wrapped them up”.

So, what happened to the blanket?

The child or the object that could have been a child morphed into a child wearing pyjamas just like the ones Madeleine had been wearing? Well, kind of because there's something not quite fitting about those pyjamas.

Jammmies photo PyjamasBestPhoto.jpg

Pyjamas said to be identical to the ones Madeleine was wearing when she disappeared.

Those pyjamas have wide, cropped legs. Would they have reached the ankles if a child had been carried as described by Jane Tanner or would they have ridden up over the knees? They would definitely not have been tight around the ankles.

Abductor photo Abductor251007.jpg

Sketch produced from Jane Tanner's improved description. Definitely not a man carrying an object that could have been a child wrapped in a blanket and, in my opinion, not wearing those pyjamas as displayed by the McCanns. Jane Tanner did not initially describe an abductor carrying a small child, but a man carrying an object that could have been a child. This morphed into an abductor definitely carrying away Madeleine and the white man became the swarthy man! Something helped her memory!

Claim Seven

Kate and Gerry were adamant the kidnapper did not go into the apartment from the back entrance because they could see it from their table at the tapas bar - but Amaral says this was a lie.

At 1.20 on the following video, "view from the tapas bar. Only the very top of the balcony of the McCanns' ground floor apartment is visible. A large whitewashed wall and thick bushes obscure the view from the poolside tables."

The video shows the view from the tapas bar in daylight. These photos show the view at night. The McCanns' table (1) was behind the high screen, further obstructing their view of the apartment.(2) It would have been impossible to see anyone entering or leaving the apartment, who was under 8' tall and not carrying portable floodlights!

Thanks to Pamalam for images.

Claim Eight

The book says there were contradictions among the McCanns and the Tapas Seven over whether the apartment window was open.

All of the statements can be read on Nigel Moore's web site hereToo many contradictions for me to list! Read and judge for yourself.

Claim Nine

Amaral said the McCanns were preoccupied with dealing with the press rather than police.

What can I say? Just go to Google images and you'll find so many images from the first few days after Madeleine disappeared. The McCanns held regular press conferences and when they hot-footed it from Portugal soon after being made arguidos, Gerry contacted Sky News, told them what flight they'd be on and said "Be on it."

After three-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared on a family vacation in Portugal, her parents pursued a high-stakes strategy: media saturation...

...It is Gerry who is behind what he tells me is “the marketing … a high public awareness” of Madeleine. At his side while we talk is Clarence Mitchell, a voluble former government media analyst and BBC reporter, handpicked by Gerry to be the latest in a line of spokesmen. On October 17, Mitchell spoke at Coventry University. His topic: “Missing Madeleine McCann: The Perfect PR Campaign.” Except that it has been anything but perfect.

It has in fact been so counterproductive that, as winter approached, Portuguese attorney general Fernando Pinto Monteiro suggested that one way or another the McCanns were responsible for their child’s death. Specifically he said that if indeed Madeleine had been kidnapped, it was the carefully contrived publicity engineered by her parents that likely sealed her fate. “With the whole world having Madeleine’s photo,” he observed, any abductor would have been pushed to such a degree that “there’s a greater probability of the little girl being dead than alive.”

Claim Ten

He claimed the McCann children were given drugs to help them sleep - which might explain why the twins did not wake and how Maddie accidentally died.

When the Portuguese police arrived at the McCanns' holiday apartment on the night Madeleine disappeared, there were around 20 people already there, searching the rooms and calling Maddie's name. Throughout the noise and commotion, twins Sean and Amelie slept in their cots and did not wake up. Even when they were lifted and carried to another apartment, they remained sound asleep. This was commented on by various people at the time and one observer stated that Kate McCann kept putting her fingers under the twins' noses to make sure they were breathing. At the time, it seems, that Kate McCann did not explain why she was doing this and she did not express any suspicions about the "abductor" having drugged the children.

However, during an interview for the launch of her book, "Madeleine," Kate McCann described how the twins slept through everything that was going on and how she suspected that the "abductor" had drugged the twins.

Mrs McCann said she had to check that twins Sean and Amelie were still breathing because they did not wake as they began a frantic search for the missing three-year-old...

...Asked if the twins had been drugged, she said on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour today: 'On the night I just remember the twins lying in the cot and not moving - with lights going on and people moving around.

'There was a lot of noise and they just didn't move and I remember several times checking for chest movements. I did feel it was a bit strange that they were not moving let alone waking up.

'I did consider with Madeleine perhaps she had been given something too.'

Daily Mail May 13th 2011

In the very small window of opportunity the intruder would have had to enter apartment 5A and make off with Madeleine, he/she had time to drug all three children?

Most of us who have children know that little ones do not usually sleep as well as the McCann twins slept that night. So, it would appear that there was a reason other than tiredness or that Sean and Amelie were incredibly sound sleepers. It seems reasonable to ask who drugged the twins and also to consider that Madeleine was drugged too, but by whom. Gonçalo simply puts forward the theory that Madeleine may have died accidentally of a drugs overdose. This was not just Amaral's person idea, but one of those put forward by the joint English and Portuguese teams of investigators. They are the police. They are allowed to develop theories as to what has happened when a child disappears. It's their job!

I think The Sun has done a brilliant job there in publishing some of the basic narrative contained in Gonçalo Amaral's book. With the libel trial now underway in Lisbon, The Sun has given readers a glimpse of what the case is about. "Outrageous claims"? I think not!

Thursday, 12 September 2013