Sunday, 10 August 2008

The failed reenactment (*)

On April 2008, Mr. Paulo Rebelo gave a detailed response to the McCann friends, about their arguments and doubts concerning the reenactment of events from May 3. He made clear that one of the conditions stated – that Gerry and Kate "arguido" statute should be lifted, before – was not possible to be fulfilled, as it was a Public Prosecutor's legal power, not PJ.

About the reenactment, the main problem of the Tapas group was clear: either PJ believed in their statements and the reenactment wasn't necessary, or PJ was trying to get something strange out from that. They wanted to know what were the real intentions of PJ. After a lot of emails were exchanged, through Stuart Prior, the Tapas group remain unconvinced of the utility of such reenactment.

The next answers from the McCann friends put as conditions not only the lifting of the status of "arguidos" of the McCann couple but also a public statement from PJ dispelling the lies churned out by the Portuguese Press and stressing that there were no suspicions over the seven friends.

As the conditions were impossible to be fulfilled, a final request for a decision was made, from Paulo Rebelo, on an email addressed to Stuart Prior, on April 29. Jane and Russel O'Brien were the first to answer, saying yes, but pending further legal advice. Rachel and Matthew send a similar answer, but said they couldn't be in Portugal between 15 and 17 May 2008.

Diana, Fyona and David Payne also accepted, pending legal advice they were looking for, after the PJ detailed explanations. Jeremy Wilkins was willing to participate, if all other witnesses also came to Portugal.

A new date was decided, by the Criminal Court: 29 and 30 May 2008. But then, Gerald McCann asked for a change of this new date, because his lawyer had another court appointment, in Lisbon, on May 29. The request was denied, as it was not possible to made another change, with so many people involved.

On May 10, Rachel and Matthew Oldfield send an email to Stuart Prior, telling him about their final decision: they would not came to Portugal for the reenactment. Russel O'Brien, also on May 10, told Superintendent Prior that, as they knew Jeremy Wilkins, the Oldfield and the Payne families had decided not to go back to Portugal, there was no need of their presence, as the Public prosecutor said that the reenactment couldn't take place if all witnesses were not present.

On May 23, each one the seven McCann friends sent a formal answer to the Public Prosecutor's request for the reenactment, saying they would not attend it, following advice from their lawyers. The reenactment was cancelled by the Criminal Court Judge on May 26, 2008.

Duarte Levy and Paulo Reis

(*) Information taken from the investigation files made available to the journalists