Thursday, 24 April 2008

The McCann effect

“TERRIFIED pensioners were mugged at gunpoint while on holiday in Portugal” - this the title of a tragic story, published by The Citizen, from Blackburn. Reading it, you can easily think that going to Darfur or Algarve is not very different, in what concerns risking your life. The persistent and powerful campaign of the McCann to undermine the credibility of Portugal, presenting it as a country with third world standards of life, shows its results. Next, probably, we will hear about cannibals hunting poor Irish pensioners in Faro and head-hunters collecting their souvenirs from innocent English schoolgirls in Portimão.

And all of this because the parents of three small children choose to have fun and a few drinks, instead of taking proper care of their sons. I was really touched by the quick and public apology of Clarence Mitchell, after newspapers run a story that could bring some damage to the image of Mark Warner, the company that owns the Ocean Club. It seems that Kate McCann said something, on a documentary to be broadcasted, that could be understood as a critic to Mark Warner. No, far from that, Mr. Clarence Mitchell told the Media, Kate McCann never had any intention of criticizing the company. Sounds strange, for me, this denial, so blunt and so fast... Were the McCann afraid of the reaction of Mark Warner? If yes, I wonder what could be the reason...

Anyway, we know that next May 3rd will be marked by a new, strong and violent attack to the Portuguese police investigation and, at the same time, the McCann will announce specific plans for future actions, in the field of child protection, where they want to play a key role. Allow me to suggest a slogan for their campaign to have an “Amber alert” in Europe: “Never leave your children alone in an apartment to go out for diner with your friends...”

Sunday, 20 April 2008

A nice job and a good salary

Clarence Mitchell has a nice job with a good salary, working as a spokesman of a couple of suspects of the disappearance of a little child, almost one year ago. Finding Madeleine McCann, dead or alive, would mean the end of his job.

A friend of mine, also a journalist, thinks that Clarence Mitchell is a scum bag and a scoundrel, because he has no ethical boundaries in his attacks against Portugal and the Portuguese people. I don't agree with him.

Of course, I'm not insinuating that Mr. Clarence Mitchell has a personal interest in keeping the idea that the child was kidnapped, the McCann are innocent, the Portuguese police are a bunch of drunken incompetents and the Portuguese journalists are “stupid sardines” (as another British journalist said, recently, in Brussels). No.

Another friend of mine believes that Clarence Mitchell is mentally retarded, because he asked for a foreign police force – FBI, Scotland Yard or Europol - to take action at the territory of a sovereign country, Portugal, when he called for a “a wide-ranging inquiry into the Portuguese handling” of the case “by officers from outside the country”.

Well, I have to agree. Only a mentally retarded could propose something like that. Scum bags, scoundrels and mentally retarded people are quite common, among journalists from British tabloids. But you can, also, find some of those specimen among ex-BBC journalists.

Just read what an idiot, David Rose, wrote - “The damning case against the Portuguese police” - a story that I consider as the third most shameless manipulation of information I read, since May 3rd 2007 and I believe you will agree with me. Talking about the ranking of worst British journalists in Madeleine's case, first place belongs to Grant Hodgson, a real scum bag who wrote false news, and second place to that imbecile from Sky News, Martin Brunt.

This is not the starting of the “silly season”, that period of time when newspapers have no news, politicians are all on holidays and editors must be “creative” to have a good headline. This is the beginning of another season of insults against all Portuguese people, marking one year of Madeleine's disappearance.

Does the British Media knows that there are limits for these kind of campaigns? That they can produce nasty results?

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Give me “Crimewatch” or nothing!

One thing that Mr. Clarence Mitchell never, but never, will be able to understand or admit, is the existence of something that is not British or somebody who doesn’t agree with him. Another problem, for a person who wants to give the idea that he is a spokesman, is the clear evidence that he is not able to listen to experts.

In the Portuguese legal system, re-enacting a crime is a decision that belongs to the authorities. When it’s done, how it’s done, who must be there, why is it done, it’s for the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Criminal Court and Police to decide. Listening to what Mr. Clarence Mitchell told, it seems that in UK, crime re-enacting is decided by TV producers and is done according to those producers (and program ratings…)

Mr. Clarence Mitchell told RTP that the McCann demand the status of “arguidos” to be lifted, as a condition to accept the invitation to come to Portugal, on April 15 and 16, and watch the re-enacting of the events that took place, on May 3rd 2007. Please, can somebody tell Mr. Clarence Mitchell to listen to what Mr. Rogério Alves has to tell him, about this?

It is also a surprise, for me, to know that the McCann, having said before – through their spokespeople – that:

a) They would never leave Portugal before finding what happened to Madeleine;
b) They could come back to Portugal, as “arguidos”, just to see some friends;
c) They would not come back to Portugal, unless their status of “arguidos” was lifted;

Now, they are worried with Kate: "Kate is upset. There's been no sense of concern for her feelings or the anguish it will cause her. On an emotional level she is not sure she can go through with it”, according to a “friend”, quoted by The Press Association.

Unless, it seems, if there are TV cameras available and the re-enactment can be broadcasted, according to Reuters: “Kate and Gerry McCann and their lawyers are considering the proposal and have yet to decide whether to go, spokesman Clarence Mitchell told BBC television. It is very much under discussion,’ he said.”

"What Kate and Gerry would welcome very much is something that will actually help find Madeleine. If a Crimewatch style reconstruction ... is what is being proposed, then of course they will take part. He said such a televised reconstruction was suggested by the McCanns and BBC Crimewatch last year, but was turned down by the Portuguese authorities.”

Thank you, obrigado, "Outono"...

Take a look, before Sky News delete the story...

"Police have begun interviewing friends of Kate and Gerry McCann about their daughter's disappearance. Members of the so-called Tapas Seven are being quizzed by Leicestershire Police with three Portuguese detectives sitting in on the interviews at the force headquarters in Enderby (...) We understand the police have concerns about the time-line. There may be some concern that some of the time-lines don't tally but all the discrepancies are explicable (...) The seven were dining with the McCanns at a tapas bar when Madeleine - who had been left in the family's nearby holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal - disappeared. Mr Mitchell said: 'On that night these seven people didn't have mobiles or watches. During the shock, panic and chaos details may have become muddled." - Sky News, April 8 th 2008

Saturday, 5 April 2008

European irresponsibility

Two suspects of the disappearance of their own daughter will be guests at the European Parliament, following a campaign to create a European alert system when a child disappears. Several members of parliament had the idea to invite a couple that left three children under 4 years old all alone, in an apartment with unlocked doors, 100 meters from the bar where they were having diner with a few friends – something they have done several times, before.

I presume that those same members of European Parliament could invite Ian Huntley as a speaker, for an initiative like a campaign against child murders. Of course, the situation is different. Gerry and Kate McCann are only formal suspects in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann and Ian Huntley has confessed he killed two children. But it’s ironic that someone who showed a so shocking lack of basic responsibility, leaving three small children alone, became envolved in a campaign to protect children.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Lottery draw

When Portuguese detectives are ready to leave to UK and Clarence Mitchell admits that Gerry and Kate may choose to mark the first anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance in Praia da Luz, I found that Portugal Public Prosecutor’s Office doesn’t exist, like the Portuguese Criminal Court. And I made this amazing discovery just by accident, when I looked at the online edition of The Times, on April 3rd. Yes, April 3rd, not April 1st.

“None of the witnesses” to be questioned by British Police in the presence of Portuguese detectives “will be made arguidos (official suspects under Portuguese law)”, according to The Times. Says who? – I asked myself. Because I thought that this kind of decisions, in a case that is classified as a crime, occurred in Portugal (a sovereign country) and has a Portuguese police investigation pending, belongs to Portuguese legal authorities.

But there is another point. How is it possible to give this kind of assurances, before the questioning? How is it possible to guarantee that a suspect will not be charged, even before he is submitted to a police interrogation? How is it possible to know the lottery numbers before the draw?

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

I’m back …

Since February 8th, this is my first post. As I explained, due to a health problem, I had to stop posting at Gazeta Digital, for a few weeks. It wasn’t a serious problem, but kept me out of my work as a freelance journalist. Now, I’m coming back, but I still have some physical limitations and I will have to go slowly, for a few more weeks. Looking at the most recent news – the fact that the Tapas Group had access to the content of the rogatory letters and part of the police files about the investigation of Madeleine’s disappearance – I must say that this shouldn’t be a surprise, for those who have been following this case.

On January 2008, Clarence Mitchell revealed that “British police and child protection officers do not suspect Madeleine McCann's parents of involvement in her disappearance”. And he was clear about the source of this information, when he said: “I have also had briefings privately from the police and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) centre that also gave me complete reassurance that the authorities, in this country certainly, are treating this as a case of rare stranger abduction, as they call it."

At the end of November 2007, the seven friends that were having diner at the Tapas restaurant, with Gerry and Kate McCann, met for the first time after the events at Praia da Luz. It was an emotional meeting, as the British Press referred, two weeks after the meeting took place, at a hotel in Rothley. But it wasn’t only the group of friends that were present. Some of the advisers of the McCann family were there, also.

It’s good to remember that on January 2008, the Foreign Secretary confirmed that he “has communicated with the McCann family on a number of occasions. However any further details relating to this have been withheld under Section 36 (2) (c) of the FOIA - information which, if disclosed, would or would be likely to, prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs. Section 36 is a qualified exemption and therefore a public interest test to determine whether or not the information should be released had to be applied.”

Another strange detail has emerged, on October 2007, on an interview of Alex Woolfall, the Media management crisis expert that was at Praia da Luz 48 hours after Madeleine vanished. He told “The Times” that “he heard no suggestion in the early days that the girl had been snatched. ‘Certainly I did not hear any discussion that this could be a paedophile or an aggravated robbery. All the time I was around it was whether she could have wandered off and had an accident or somebody had actually taken her in, perhaps not with ill-intent.”

But Kate McCann was clear – and in total contradiction – about this subject, in several interviews to British newspapers: 'There wasn't a shadow of a doubt in my mind she'd been taken”, Kate McCann told "The Independent", on August 5th, referring to the moment when she went inside the apartment and realized that Madeleine wasn’t there.

Now, let’s wait and see what course events will take. But going back to the beginning of this case, allow me to quote Piers Morgan, former editor of “News of The World” and “Daily Mirror”: "Nobody I know says they would ever have left three kids aged under four on their own to go out with their mates at night on holiday. NOBODY."