Friday, 31 August 2007

DNA samples: Results of the analysis from FSS will not be sent to Portugal

Once the Forensic Science Service finishes the analysis to the samples collected at Praia da Luz, the results will not be sent to the Portuguese authorities, according to the Daily Mail. The British newspaper quotes a spokesman from Forensic Science Service, who denied that FSS has sent any part of the samples to other laboratory: “Every major breakthrough in the field of analysing DNA comes from the Forensic Science Service. There is nobody ahead of us in this”. The spokesman of FSS told Daily Mail that it was not possible to “put a timescale” on the work, because they are dealing with “an incredible complex situation”. The finals results of the analysis will be sent to Leicestershire Police and detectives from that British Police Force will decide what part of that information will be send to the Portuguese authorities.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

CID does not confirm reports about a syringe found in McCann’s room

The spokesman of the Polícia Judiciária (Criminal Investigation Department), Chief-Inspector Olegário de Sousa, contacted by S.O.S Madeleine, said that Police does not confirm news published by Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manhã, referring that a syringe and tranquillizers were found in the room of McCann family, after the disappearance of Madeleine.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Professor Stavroula Adamis: “It’s ridicule to talk about more than two weeks for this kind of analysis”

Professor Stavroula Adamis, from the ”Unité d’Expertise Génétique” (Genetic Forensic Unit) of the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, asked to comment about the time Forensic Science Service (FSS), in Birmingham, is taking to finish the analysis of samples collected at Praia da Luz and related with the investigation of Madeleine McCann disappearance, said that “it’s ridicule, for a laboratory with that dimension, to talk about more than two weeks” to have those results.

“Even if it’s necessary to ‘reconstruct’ the DNA, using any available processes or techniques, analysis like that don’t need more than two weeks”, said professor Adamis. Portuguese Police is waiting for the results in order to advance in the investigation of a new line of inquiry that Polícia Judiciária spokesman, Olegário de Sousa, referred, on August 10. An expert at the Forensic Science Service in Birmingham, quoted yesterday, August 28, by Daily Express, said that “analysis of multiple samples obtained from several crime scenes where the individuals involved are unknown is much more complex and can take several weeks”.

The samples were taken to FSS more than 20 days ago, by the special British Police team that has been in Praia da Luz, in the last week of July, for a review of the case. The British team searched the crime scene and other places, with the help of two highly trained dogs, able to detect the scents of blood and dead bodies, even months after events occurred.

Duarte Levy and Paulo Reis

Monday, 27 August 2007

Dangerous connections




The sugestion to scale down the media exposure of McCann couple and the campaign to find Madeleine came from the British Prime-Minister’s office, according to a source close to McCann family. Gordon Brown’s advisers are worried about the possibility that the next steps of the investigation of Madeleine’s disappearance, which is following a new line of inquiry, may produce results that could damage the Prime-Minister´s image, due to his close relationship with Gerry McCann. Justine McGuiness, spokesman for McCann family, refused to comment and our attempts to contact the British Prime-Minister’s Office were unsuccessful.

Portuguese Police is waiting for the official results of tests to samples collected at the crime scene and several other places, in Praia da Luz, by a British Police special team, during a review of the case that took place at the end of July. Those samples are being tested at Forensic Science Service, in Birmingham, since almost three weeks and they are fundamental to the investigation, as Portuguese CID spokesman told The Telegraph: “The new line of inquiry can only go forward after these results.”

The most relevant findings of the British Police special team that reviewed Madeleine’s investigation were reached with the help of two specially trained dogs, able to detect tiny traces of blood and the scent of a dead body, even after many months have passed. Traces of blood, found at Madeleine’s apartment, were one of many samples collected and send to be analysed at the Forensic Science Service. The Times revealed the preliminary results of that specific test, that showed the blood was from a man, not Madeleine’s blood.

The Forensic Science Service confirmed, on August 8, that “analysis to several kind of samples” related to Madeleine’s abduction were being made at FSS. But eighteen days after, Portuguese Police has not received the results and the British laboratory is doing a second round of tests. FSS refused to comment, when asked, today, about who requested this second round of tests – British or Portuguese Police.

The spokesman for Polícia Judiciária, said that “PJ didn't asked for a second round of tests” to the samples collected by the British Police special team, in July: “We don’t know the results, how and why would we ask for repeating the tests?”, Chief-Inspector Olegário de Sousa commented, today.

Meanwhile, FSS management has taken “specific precautions” concerning the set of samples that were received from Praia da Luz and the results of the analysis, in order to guarantee that any information made available to the public that does not reflect with acuracy the results could be corrected, without breaching the law.

(Continue)

Paulo Reis/Duarte Levy

French version: SOS Madeleine McCann

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Madeleine and Ylenia: Police looks for possible connections



Forensic tests on the body of Urs Hans Von Aesch, a Swiss citizen who apparently killed himself last Friday, August 3, showed that he has been in contact with several objects that belong to Ylenia Lenhard, a five years old child who disapeared the same day, near the swimming pool of Appenzell, Switzerland, according to SOS Madeleine. A bagpack, with her clothes inside and her cycling helmet were near the area where Police found the body of Von Aesch, another man with gunshot wounds and a white van. Bruno Fehr, Police chief of St. Galle, quoted by SOS Madeleine, admited the possibility of Urs Hans Von Aesch being connected to other missing children cases, in the 70's and 80's, before he left Switzerland to live in Spain, in 1990.

Information about this case, according to the same source, was sent to Soko Rebecca, a special task-force from Swiss Police for all pending cases of missing children. Swiss Police sent also information to Interpol, in order to check a possible connection with Madeleine's disappearence, as there are indications that Von Aesch could have been in Portugal around May this year.

Second gun not found

Other man found injured at Oberbüren forest, 32 km from Appenzell, was walking in the forest, according to Enfants Kidnapés, a French blod dedicated to fight paedophile crimes and helping find missing children. But he was shot with a different gun, as the bullet found in his body is not from the same gun that killed Von Aesch. Only one gun – a pistol – was found, close to the body of Von Aesch. The second man has been already discharged from hospital and questioned by Police, but his identity remains unknown. Several witnesses, also according to Enfants Kidnapés, told police they saw two men inside a white van, in Appenzell, the days before Ylenia disappeared.

Von Aesch had a criminal record

The Swiss citizen found dead had a criminal record and was sentenced to 15 months in jail, in 1961, after he tried to extort 10 thousand Swiss Francs from a businessman, in Zurich, threatening to kidnapp his young son, still according to Enfants Kidnapés. Von Aesch had a successfull company, in the 70's, but its business – a filing classification system for documents – ended quickly when computers started to be widely available. He has been living in Benimantell (Spain), 15 km from Benidorm. He was well known from the local population and considered a quiet and friendly person.

For the last weeks, he has been traveling in Switzerland, in a white van with the back area adapted to be used as a sleeping place, apparently looking for houses to buy or rent, according to Swiss Police sources quoted by Enfants Kidnapés. Hundreds of Police officers are still looking for Ylenia Lenhard but Bruno Fehr, Police chief of St. Galle, told the Press that he "fears the worst."

Police “does not confirm news” that refer the possibility of Madeleine being dead

News about the possible death of Madeleine first appeared last Saturday, August 4, when the weekly “Sol” published a story, by Felícia Cabrita and Margarida Davim, saying that there were “strong signs" that Madeleine “is dead”, quoting unidentified police sources. On Sunday and Monday, several other Portuguese newspapers either quoted “Sol” or followed the same line, giving more details. “Jornal de Notícias” (JN), a leading daily newspaper, wrote that “traces of blood from a dead body, presumably from young Madeleine” were found at the Ocean Resort apartment from where she vanished. “Investigators are not sure that is was a homicide, in spite of the fact that, according to forensic analysis, somebody tried to clean those traces”. The newspaper also wrote that Madeleine's death is now “considered almost certain”. “It's now clear, for Polícia Judiciária, that the child's death occurred inside the room”, says JN. No source is quoted to substantiate those informations, the journalists just mention that Jornal de Notícias “know (...)” or “found that (...)”.

New forensic searches to vehicles belonging to Murat and “other people connected to the case”

Weekly “Sol” and other newspapers mentioned that those traces of blood were found by specially trained dogs, brought to Portugal by a British Police team. But the spokesman for Polícia Judiciária told Gazeta Digital, yesterday, August 6, that Portuguese CID “does not confirm news published today by the Portuguese Press”. Chief-Inspector Olegário de Sousa said also that “two specially trained dogs were used, in several searches, in cooperation with British Police.” PJ spokesman referred that this case "has several witnesses and one formal suspect and further forensic analysis were made today, at the end of the afternoon, in vehicles that belong to the suspect ('arguido' Robert Murat) and other persons connected to the case”. Gazeta Digital knows that one of the vehicles is a van that belongs to Ocean Resort. Analysis to this vehicle took place at a GNR (Portuguese Rural Police) precinct, near Praia da Luz. Other vehicles were searched at a closed car park, near CID headquarters, at Portimão. Murat's girlfriend car and another vehicle that belongs to his estranged husband are among the cars that were subjected to these new forensic searches, according to SIC, a Portuguese news channel.

Searches at Murat's home

From Saturday to Sunday, a team of Portuguese and British detectives searched the home of Robert Murat. Workers from a gardening company cut trees and bushes in the garden. Later, iron bars were placed in specific areas and dogs were brought in. On Monday afternoon, Police left the house. Minutes after that, Robert Murat, his lawyer Francisco Pagarete and Felícia Cabrita, a journalist from weekly “Sol” left through the front gate. Murat refused to talk to journalists, but his lawyer explained that searches were taking place with his client full cooperation and Mr. Murat expected that it “may contribute to prove he is innocent and ceases to be involved in this situation”. Questioned about the fact that Murat has always refused to talk to the Press but allowed the Portuguese journalist to come to his home, Mr. Pagarete said that he advised his client not to talk to the Press and complained that the way journalists treated his client was not the correct way. He further explained that Mrs Felícia Cabrita “treated us in a correct way” and, when she requested to come inside Murat's home to talk with Mr. Pagarete, Mr. Murat accepted the request.

New forensic searches to vehicles that belong to Murat and “other people connected to the case”

Portuguese Police “does not confirm news published today by the Portuguese Press”, the spokesman for Polícia Judiciária told Gazeta Digital. Chief-Inspector Olegário de Sousa said also that “two specially trained dogs were used, in several searches, in cooperation with British Police.” PJ spokesman referred that this case "has several witnesses and one formal suspect and further forensic analysis were made today, at the end of the afternoon, in vehicles that belong to the suspect ('arguido' Robert Murat) and other persons connected to the case”. Gazeta Digital knows that one of the vehicles is a van that belongs to Ocean Resort. Analysis to this vehicle took place at a GNR (Portuguese Rural Police) precinct, near Praia da Luz."

Murat's girlfriend car and another vehicle that belongs to his estranged husband are among the cars that were subjected to these new forensic searches, according to SIC, a Portuguese news channel.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Searches at Murat's home called off for the night

Police searches in Murat's home were called off, for the night, and two GNR (Portuguese Rural Police) stayed inside the house. Murat's lawyer, Francisco Pagarete, told journalists the Portuguese CID requested the presence of the two police officers and the owners agreed. Mr. Pagarete told that searches took place with the full cooperation of Mr. Murat and his mother. During 13 hours, workers from a gardening company and several elements from Civil Protection Services cut bushes and trees around the home, within specific areas previously cordoned by police. At the end of the afternoon, a sniffer dog was brought to the home. Around 8.30 pm, CID officers and British detectives left the place.

Portuguese weekly “Sol” : "Looking for Maddie’s body"




The investigations have returned to their initial course.
Portuguese and British police search for the body of the child in the surroundings of Praia da Luz.

By Felícia Cabrita (felícia.cabrita@sol.pt) and Margarida Davim (magarida.davim@sol.pt)
Weekly "Sol" (Original version, in Portuguese)
Translated by: Mark

“There are strong signs” that Madeleine, the English child that disappeared from Praia da Luz almost one hundred days ago, “is dead”, police sources have told Sol. The 180º turnaround that the investigation by the Policia Judiciaria (PJ) from Portimao seems to have done in the past few days, even led the Attorney General, Pinto Monteiro, to postpone the making of an interview that had been requested by British media chain BBC – an interview that would be focusing on the fact that, so long after Maddie’s disappearance, the authorities still remain without real clues concerning her whereabouts.

Although an official source from the PGR justified the postponing of the interview with “agenda issues”, the moves by the PJ and some elements from the British police during these last days – accompanied by two dogs, in Praia da Luz – seem to indicate that the investigation is now centred on the McCann family and their group of friends. Sol could find out that the English dogs are trained for different tasks. One, to detect human remains originating from dead flesh, and the other one to detect human blood or fluids. A specialist that was contacted by Sol explains that the technique of these animals rests on scientific bases, and that while “one of the dogs can distinguish between natural death or death by accident that does not involve bloodshed, the other one can diagnose whether someone died a violent death, with bloodshed or other spilled fluids”.

Tuesday night, a black and white cocker spaniel that is trained to detect death, spent several hours in the apartment that the McCann family occupied in the Ocean Club resort, and from where Maddie disappeared on May 3. According to sources within the investigation, the dog marked the death of the child inside the apartment.

On the dogs’ trail

The English dogs do not contradict the clues that were detected by the sniffer dog that GNR sent to the location, on the day following the English girl’s disappearance. It’s an animal that only follows odours, and that “detected the movement of the child from the room to another point inside the apartment”, according to a source with the Guarda. The same source said that “based on that signal, it was not possible to conclude whether the child was alive or dead – because a sniffer dog will smell both the living and the dead”. Yet, outside the house, both through the windows that faced the Tapas restaurant – where the McCanns had dinner with their seven friends – and through the main door, “the dog lost the trail, as if the child had exited, for example, rolled up in a blanket”, that source said. A team from Sol, on the terrain for the last two weeks, could observe the work of the cocker spaniel from the British police, performing several diligences along the water in Praia da Luz and in a nearby valley.

The animal’s path, on Wednesday night, seemed to test the deposition from several witnesses that were heard by the PJ in late May – namely an Irish family that have been living in Luz, and who, on the day that Maddie vanished, reportedly crossed ways with a man that carried a child that seemed to be asleep. According to their deposition to PJ, Martin Smith, his wife and his children, after leaving the Kelly bar, which is located approximately 400 metres from the Ocean Club, around 9.50 / 10.00 pm, saw an individual described as Caucasian, measuring 1.70 – 1.75 m, walking towards the beach. The Irish man told Sol that he knew Robert Murat (the only arguido in the process) visually for years – and also remembered seeing the Anglo-Portuguese man in a bar that evening, “already a bit intoxicated”. Therefore, the Irish dismissed the possibility that the person he saw carrying a child could be Murat: “If it was him, I guarantee to you that I would have recognized him”.

Concerning the clothes the man he saw on that night was wearing, Smith only refers the “beige trousers”, given the fact that his upper body was hidden by the child’s body, which was not covered. It is curious that one of the elements that formed the group of Maddie’s parents’ friends, guaranteed to PJ several days before Smith was heard, that - at a moment when she left the table to check on the group’s children - she had crossed ways with a man that was wearing trousers that fit the description that was also made by the Irish man. That individual was also carrying a sleeping child. And the witness, who even managed to see what pyjamas the child was wearing, just “thought it was strange that the child was barefoot and uncovered”. This witness said it would be 9.15 pm.

Direct access to the PM

According to the course the PJ from Portimao is now conducting the investigation, and considering the trail that the British police’s cocker spaniel tracked along the sea shore, the individual would have descended to Praia da Luz, where he could have disposed of Maddie’s body. Sol knows that the English team contacted João Alveirinho Dias, a professor at the University of Algarve and a specialist in oceanography, in order to collect information about the sea’s dynamics and the beach area where everything may have happened. The investigator, who was not briefed about the context of the police inquiries, told “Sol" that he was consulted on “the sand movements, where they come from and where they go to”. The police investigation has therefore, and according to our sources, returned to its initial course, and it becomes increasingly clear, as Sol had reported previously, that there is no proof against Murat.

Yet, the British media continue to point a finger at the Anglo-Portuguese man, although the criminal investigation has returned to clues that relate to the group of friends of Madeleine’s parents. A journalist with the Daily Express – who has repeatedly contacted Sol searching for new information on this case – recognized this week that it is “difficult for an English newspaper to adopt a critical tone concerning Madeleine’s parents”. The Daily Express cited, in one of its last reports, the news that have been published by Sol, describing them as a “hate campaign” against the McCanns.

The same journalist ended up confessing that “it’s the only way we can transmit your data”. Sol knows that Gerry McCann has regular contact with Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister. Clarence Mitchell – who was the first spokesman for the McCanns and is now in the press cabinet at Nº 10, Downing Street – confirms those contacts. “I know there is a communication line between Gerry and Gordon Brown. I know they talk. But I don’t know what they talk about, because those are informal conversations”, he clarified, further adding: “The Madeleine case is treated whenever there are bilateral meetings between Portugal and the United Kingdom. Gordon Brown is sensitive to the case and wants it solved quickly”.

Translated by: Mark 04.08.2007

Murat didn't travelled alone in his return to Portugal




Robert Murat came back to Portugal, days before Madeleine was kidnapped, and he was accompanied by another man. Murat spend around 10 days in UK and was in Exeter, where his sister Samantha lives, for some time. Local witnesses, in UK, confirmed that Robert Murat was seen with another man in his 40's, 1.70/1.75 meters tall, short hair and tanned skin. Those witnesses couldn't give more details of his face because the man was using a hat. They left Faro airport and Murat went to Praia da Luz, while the other man stayed near Lagos city. Questioned about this detail, Portuguese CID refused to comment.

Exeter is the place were Russel O'Brien and Jane Tanner, McCann friends that were with them at Ocean Resort, live. A possible connection between the couple and Robert Murat was referred by the Press, but both Murat the McCann's spokesman denied they ever met. Russel O'Brien and Jane Tanner moved to Exeter four weeks before they came to Portugal, on vacations, with the McCann couple. Jane Tanner was the witness that told Police she saw a man carrying a child, near the apartment 5A, at Ocean Resort, around 9.30pm, the night Madeline disappeared. The description she gave was later made public by Portuguese CID, on May 25: a white male, approximately 35 to 40 years old, of medium build, and 1,70/1.75 meters tall, wearing a dark jacket, and had light beige trousers and dark shoes.

We showed several photos, taken during the first days of the searches for Madeleine to the British witnesses that confirmed Murat was accompanied by other man, in his return to Portugal, but the man wasn't among those pictured. One of those witnesses noticed that a person who was on the pictures, talking with Robert Murat and following a canine unit of GNR (Portuguese Rural Police) was also in several web pages, but near Gerry McCann, Madeleine and the twins. The picture (1) was taken before Madeleine was kidnapped, and is clear that the place is inside the Ocean Resort. The man in question, with shaved hair, sunglasses and strongly build, appears in several photos, published in British and Spanish newspapers, among Police officers and close to Robert Murat. Our question to Portuguese CID about this man received the same answer: no comments, details of the investigation are covered by Secrecy Law.

Paulo Reis & ndlevy (SOS Madeleine)

Saturday, 4 August 2007

New searches in Murat's home

Portuguese CID officers and British detectives, with dogs specially trained to detect dead bodies are today searching Robert Murat home, since early morning. Police has cordoned off the area surrounding the home and is cutting down trees on the property, according to local witnesses. Robert Murat and his lawyer are inside the home, following the searches.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Madeleine possible sighting in Belgium: view of the restaurant "De Pauze"




A view of the restaurant “De Pauze”, in Tongres (Tongeren, in Flemish) were witnesses spotted a girl that looked like Madeleine, on July 28, with a couple driving a black Volvo, according to SOS Madeleine. Belgian authorities released an e-fit of the man, described as being in his 40's, with 1.80 meters, short hair and speaking Flemish with a Dutch accent.

Possible sighting of Madeleine McCann in Tongres(*) Belgium: e-fit of the suspect




Belgian Police made public an e-fit of a man seen yesterday, in the city of Tongres, near the Belgian/Dutch border, with a girl that looked like Madeleine. The e-fit was posted at the French blog SOS Madeleine.

(*) Tongeren, in Flemish.

CORRECTION: The sighting happened on July 28. Belgian authorities issued a warrant, with the e-fit of the suspect, yesterday, August 1.

Possible sighting of Madeleine McCann in Tongres (*), Belgium

Belgium Police made public an e-fit of a man in his 40's, 1.80 meters, short hair and bear, who was spotted yesterday, in the city of Tongres, near the Belgium/Dutch border, with a girl that looked like Madeleine. The man, who spoke Flemish with a Dutch accent, behaved suspiciously when he stopped at the terrace of a restaurant, accompanied by a woman with brown hair. A witness at the restaurant said that the woman spoke English with a British accent, according to the French blog SOS Madeleine. The couple drove a recent model of a Volvo, black colour, with a Belgian licence plate starting with the letters “VUV”. Belgian authorities have already sent the information to Dutch Police, as they consider the possibility that the couple crossed the border to Holland.

(*) Tongeren, in Flemish.

CORRECTION: The sighting happened on July 28. Belgian authorities issued a warrant, with the e-fit of the suspect, yesterday, August 1.