Wednesday, 6 August 2008

The McCann Case: A “Mystery girl” and Mr. Clarence doubts

Mystery girl in Maddy hunt” was today's headline of the Evening Standard. “The CCTV picture taken hours after she vanished from Algarve villa. Why did police keep it secret?”, asks the newspaper. The picture was taken on May 4 and PJ was informed of an alleged sighting of Madeleine.

The same day, PJ inspectors J.C. Franco and C. Lucas, went to that gas station (from GALP, a Portuguese company) at A22, a highway that crosses Algarve, from East to West. The two inspectors, according to the report signed by them and included in the DVD files made available to journalists, got the CCTV images and showed Madeleine's picture to the employees of the shop.

The employees confirmed that the girl they saw, a few hours before (11:10 am) was not Madeleine McCann. Images were viewed and analysed by PJ technicians and the result was negative – it was not Madeleine. The two PJ inspectors went also to the gas station on the opposite side of the highway (in the West-East direction), and the result was the same. They did it also at another Galp station, near Loulé, with the same results.

Just as a curiosity, the Metro refers that these images were seen by the McCann, who also ruled out the possibility of being her daughter. Anyway, the Evening Star even wrote that “it is not clear if the image released today was thoroughly checked by Portuguese officers.” Mr. Clarence Mitchell is quoted by the newspaper: "Was that sighting followed up and ruled out properly? We just don't know."

PJ received a second information, the same day – May 4 – about a blonde girls seen in another shop, at another gas station. This one was a Repsol gas station, at Vale do Paraíso, near Albufeira. PJ Inspector A. Silva went there, got the CCTV images, talked with employees and it was easy to conclude it couldn't be Madeleine. As the PJ inspector wrote in his report (available at the DVD given to journalists) there was no positive identification and the child had very long hair, clearly visible. As hair grows at a rate of around 1 cm every month, Madeleine couldn't have a so long hair, on May 4, he wrote. The Daily Mail published the picture with a caption: “Clues: Another possible sighting contained in the file”...

Duarte Levy and Paulo Reis

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