Thursday, 6 September 2007

McCann couple granted the statute of “assistentes” in the crime investigation

Gerry and Kate McCann have requested the statute of “assistentes” in the crime investigation of Madeleine disappearance. From a legal point of view, they still are both witnesses, until now, and the statute of “assistentes” does not change that situation, because both statutes coexist without conflict.
It means that, as witnesses, Gerry and Kate still must tell the truth, the all truth and only the truth, when questioned by police. Not doing that will be a breach of the law, with consequences. They may require the presence of a lawyer, when questioned, a right that any witness has.

At the same time they have the statute of “assistente”, which means that they have the right to request, through their lawyer, access to certain parts of the investigation results and to present evidence. They can also request specific initiatives, in the investigation, and appeal from decisions made either by The Public Prosecutor Magistrate, or by the Criminal Instruction Judge (“Juiz de Instrução Criminal”).

Specific aspects of this capacity to request a more active presence and participation in the inquiry will be changed soon, as there will be a new Penal Code, after September 15. Changes brought by the new Penal Code will not reduce the legal rights of the “assistentes” but, instead, it will give boost those same rights. For example, “assistentes” will be able to have access to all data and information in the inquiry process, if all parts involved (Criminal Instruction Judge, Public Prosecutor Magistrates, “arguidos”, other “assistentes”) agree with it.

Justine McGuiness, the Press Officer for the McCann family, confirmed they have been granted the “assistentes” statute. Kate McCann is still in Portuguese CID headquarters, in Portimão, where she is being questioned by police since more than three hours.


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