Wednesday, 23 May 2018

“Plea Bargain”, a police proposal that only existed for the McCann

After her interrogation at PJ headquarters’, in Portimão, Philomena McCann, Gerry’s sister was in charge of a “disinformation campaign”, quoting Kate McCann: the Portuguese police offered her a “plea bargain”: “If she confessed ‘to having accidentally killed Madeleine (…) and then hid her and then disposed of the body, then we can grant you a two-year jail sentence or even less”, according to “The Telegraph”. 

Philomena McCann was even invited to a debate about the case, on the program “Larry King Live”, and said, on the phone: If Kate “just said that she accidentally killed Madeleine (…) she would be given a sentence, you know, very reduced, like two years or even less, if, something that she's never going to say because there's no truth in it whatsoever”, she said. 

The “statement” of Philomena McCann was “confirmed” by Robert Moore, the ITN correspondent in Portugal, during the same debate: “I'm hearing the same from my sources here, essentially, it is extraordinary how the Portuguese investigators have handled Kate McCann, in particular. They simply said to her if you confess to killing Madeleine, we can guarantee that you'll have two or three years in prison. They even suggested that she'd be out free again after a year, she'd be able to see her twins grow up”, he said.

Meanwhile, Philomena McCann continued her relentless campaign of “disinformation”, talking to several Media organizations. She told Sky News “that the Portuguese police were suggesting that her sister-in-law accidentally killed Madeleine, hid the body and then disposed of it (…) I've never heard anything so ludicrous in my life," she said. Philomena McCann told also to ITV News that the Portuguese police offered Kate McCann a plea deal through her lawyer. The “Daily Mail” went into more details, quoting the book “Vanished”, written by Kate McCann: “The plea-bargain offer was put to the McCann’s by their lawyer, Carlos Pinto de Abreu. He told them Mrs. McCann could get ‘only two years’ if she admitted Madeleine had died in an accident in the apartment, and confessed to hiding and later disposing of her body.” Mrs. McCann, 43, wrote, according to the newspaper quote: ‘Pardon? I wasn’t sure I could possibly have heard him correctly. Did they really expect me to confess to a crime they had made up, to falsely claim to the whole world that my daughter was dead, when the result would be that the whole world stopped looking for her?’ (*)

The only problem is that “plea bargain”, a system widely used in the United States, simply does not exist in the Portuguese legal system. Police has no power or authority to propose, negotiate or suggest prison sentences, in exchange of whatever it could be. Only on a trial court, the judges have the power to decide the sentence to be applied. And, of course, they take in consideration all details of the case. The “disinformation campaign” about the alleged “plea bargain” was “killed” by the own Portuguese lawyer of the McCann, Pinto de Abreu. 

Perhaps tired and a little bit ashamed (as a lawyer…) to see his name involved in such kind of campaign, he talked to the Media, and made it clear, as “The Guardian” referred, on its edition of September 17, 2007:

Police were still questioning Gerry McCann when, already, his sister Philomena was telling Sky they had offered Kate McCann a reduced two-year sentence if she admitted to killing her daughter accidentally, hiding the body and then secretly disposing of it weeks later (…) On this occasion the police officers were right to be angry. Like many things said about the McCann affair over the past days and months, the story was wrong. There was no offer of a plea bargain. It had all been "a misunderstanding", the McCann lawyer, Carlos Pinto de Abreu, explained the following day.”, “The Guardian” wrote.

(*) Edited at 00:47, May 25 2018 -  This is a detail I missed, when I wrote this post. The book "Vanished” was published in 2011. Kate McCann ignored completely the public denial of her own lawyer, who told the Media there was no “plea bargain” proposal. She wrote about the fabricated story of the “plea bargain” as if it was truth and not just another disinformation campaign of the McCann.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

A strange situation: when a lawyer asks Police to ask a question to his client

Gerry McCann: "(...) it was common for her (Madeleine) to have nose-bleeds".
Monday, 1 September 2008
"At the end of the questioning, on September 7, 2007, PJ detectives asked Gerry if Madeleine was ever hurt, during her stay at Ocean Club. Gerry said he would not comment on that. After the detectives asked the last and formal question – if he had anything else to declare – Gerry McCann said hat he saw no evidence that Madeleine was dead, so he would continue the searching, hoping to find her alive."
"When the same formal – and usual – question was put to his lawyer, Mr. Pinto de Abreu, he requested that his client was questioned again about if Madeleine had ever bleed. Gerry answered and said that Madeleine bleed frequently, from her nose, but he ignored if it had happened during the holidays in Portugal."
Based on the statement from Gerry McCann to PJ (September 7, 2007)
Transcript from the police files:
"When asked if, on any occasion, Madeleine was injured, he says no comment. At the end of his Arguido interview, Gerry McCann's lawyer said that he wished the Arguido to be asked again if Madeleine bled. Gerry McCann responded that it was common for her to have nose-bleeds. He said that he didn't know if in fact his daughter bled on holiday in Portugal."
"The lawyer for the defence says he wishes the arguido to be asked again if Madeleine bled. To which he said it was common for Madeleine to have nosebleeds. He says that he doesn't know if in fact his daughter bled while on holiday in Portugal because he does not want to be influenced by the news in the Press, regarding the detection of human blood in the apartment where his daughter disappeared."


Extract and full transcript of the interview to Gerry McCann, by Jason Graves, pubished on the Daily Express on June 3rd 2007 (Not available on the newspaper site, but reproduced in many blogs and foruns)

One of the ideas is maybe getting all the people who have publicly supported us to come together. I don’t just mean from the UK but from different parts of the world. We want a big event to raise awareness that she is still missing (…) We would look at high-profile people who have already pledged support. It will be some sort of focus around an anniversary, to tell people that Madeleine’s still missing. I think it would be later this year, once media attention has dropped, to bring it back up, hopefully, for a short period.”
It wouldn’t be a one-year anniversary; it will be sooner than that. What we’re doing at the minute has its role but doing that down the line in a few months won’t have anything like the same impact. We might have a sporting event, something arts, something music.”


Full list of all Daily Express stories deleted from its site
September 1st, 2009, 6:53 am #37
Sunday June 3,2007
By Jason Groves


Tuesday, 7 March 2017
Clear evidence Gerry McCann knew,
Sunday June 3, 2007
Interview by Jason Groves

It will de some sort of focus around an anniversary, to tell people that Madeleine’s still missing. I think it would be later this year, once media attention has dropped, to bring it back up, hopefully, for a short period. It wouldn’t be a one-year anniversary; it will be sooner than that.”
Full transcript of the interview:

Sunday June 3,2007
By Jason Groves
Daily Express

ROCK legend Sir Elton John is being lined up to front a global pop concert, to carry the message of missing Madeleine McCann’s plight to every corner of the earth.
It is hoped the singer will headline a huge series of worldwide events to mark a special Madeleine Day that her distraught parents are planning in the effort to find the vanished four-year-old. Sir Elton’s popular appeal is guaranteed to attract a swarm of other film and music superstars keen to offer support to parents Gerry and Kate McCann.
The couple, having promised not to return home until they are reunited with Madeleine, are now planning a series of visits to European and North African cities, to distribute posters and widen the appeal for information.

Sir Elton has played an emotional DVD of Madeline at his concerts, but now believes a larger effort would do more to raise awareness of her predicament.
Gerry McCann, 38, said: “One of the ideas is maybe getting all the people who have publicly supported us to come together. I don’t just mean from the UK but from different parts of the world. We want a big event to raise awareness that she is still missing.
“We would look at high-profile people who have already pledged support. It will be some sort of focus around an anniversary, to tell people thatMadeleine ’s still missing. I think it would be later this year, once media attention has dropped, to bring it back up, hopefully, for a short period.

It wouldn’t be a one-year anniversary, it will be sooner than that. What we’re doing at the minute has its role but doing that down the line in a few months won’t have anything like the same impact. We might have a sporting event, something arts, something music.
"We’ve had backing from sporting people up to now. We have had backing from certain musical celebrities as well. We’ve got some other musical contacts that we are exploring, who are happy to offer support.

We’re not saying it would necessarily be one big concert, it might be that on a certain day they are playing her DVD. What we want at the current time is maximum message out there now, about her disappearance but then just events to bring it back up occasionally just to remind people, if she’s not found.” A month after the sleeping Madeleine was snatched from her bed, Gerry and Kate McCann have betrayed the first signs that their hopes of finding her alive are starting to fade.

The couple confessed that they are haunted by the harrowing thought of her being held captive by a pervert. Still desperately clinging toMadeleine ’s pink Cuddle Cat, 38-year-old Kate said: “We don’t know where she is. We’d like to think she’s still in Portugal, she might still be in Portugal. “But we know there’s a possibility she’s gone over the border – or several borders. We know there are bad people out there, but we know there are also a lot of sad people. We hope it’s the latter.”

Gerry added: “Of course we believe Madeleine is still alive but you would be incredible if you hadn’t considered the worst scenario, that she’s dead. “Kate and I discuss it – not a lot, but we talk about hope, and that while there’s some we will not give up. At the minute, there’s loads of hope.”

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Control Risk Group: Kenneth Farrow and Micheal Keenan, two senior investigators of CRG arrived on Faro at May 13th 2007

CRG is a global risk and strategic consulting firm specializing in political, security and integrity risk. It has around has 3,000 employees, with a presence in more than 100 countries and cities including; Abu Dhabi, Amsterdam, Baghdad, Beijing, Berlin, Bogotá, Copenhagen, Delhi, Dubai, Hong Kong, Houston, Islamabad, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Kabul, Lagos, London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Moscow, Mumbai, New York, Paris, São Paulo, Shanghai, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, and Washington, DC.

The company, based out of London, was founded in 1975 as a subsidiary of the Hogg Robinson insurance and travel group, becoming the first company to provide advice to clients involved in kidnap situations. CRG began with the hiring of three SAS officers: Maj. David Walker, Arish Turle, and Simon Adams-Dale.
In a web site of British Expertise International, they are mentioned of having worked in dozens of countries, like Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia Herzegovina, Iran, Iraq, Portugal and Ukraine, among many others.
They met with Kate and Gerry McCann, at Praia da Luz, and Jane Tanner referred to them as “some of the people that Kate and Gerry brought in”. The company was apparently retained as part of a “crisis management” team by Bell Pottinger on behalf of Mark Warner. Some CRG specialist were probably in Luz before 13th May 2007.
The McCann had been before, in London, with a team od Control Risk Group Operatives, in a meeting organized by the wealthy British businessman Brian Kennedy. After their presence was made public, by the British Media, Portuguese authorities warned that is was a crime, in Portugal, if private investigators started to do their own investigation about a crime commited in the country.
Most of Control Risk Group staff has some previous experience in the intelligence field (MI5, MI6, CIA) and operatives are former special forces soldiers, coming from the British SAS, USA Navy Seals and Rangers. The company is ranked in 12th place among the 20 most powerful security contractors companies, in the world-
A leading charity War on Want say, in a story published in 2016, that Britain was at the center of a growing global mercenary industry. The chairman of Control Risks at that time – named in the report alongside G4S and Olive Group – was Crawford Gillies, a director with Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and Standard Life. He is a former chairman of both Scottish Enterprise and the Confederation of British Industry and is on the board of Control Risks alongside an ex-CIA agent and a former SAS officer.
Regarding Control Risks, War on Want said the firm operate in war zones across the world and that most of their staff are ex-members of the military and intelligence services.
The report says: “The company’s Middle East operations are overseen by Andreas Carleton-Smith, an ex-SAS officer, while its Iraq operations are headed by David Amos, an ex-officer in the British Army, who now leads more than 1200 people with 340 armored vehicles across the country.
Eddie Everett, formerly of the special forces, manages the company’s global client services, while Jim Brooks is CEO of its American arm. Brooks is ex-CIA, and worked for the agency supporting its worldwide paramilitary operations, and as a Navy SEAL adviser to Latin American security services.”
Some details of their activity in Iraq were revealed in a document from the “UK Foreign and Commonwealth Freedom of Information Office”. “The Independent”, on a story published in 2007, listed CRG as part of the Britain's private army in Iraq.
It is, at least, strange, that a so powerful organization, with capacity to act in war raged countries like Iraq, was hired, apparently by Bell Pottinger, to come to Praia da Luz, to investigate what could be considered a “minor” case of the disappearance a child. But this only one of the many mysteries that still surround the Madeleine McCann Case.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Why I went undercover to Praia da Luz

In 2007, I wrote in my blog “Madeleine McCann Disappearance” that I went to Praia da Luz once. That is not truth. But this not exactly a lie. I went once, as a journalist. I was there three other times, acting not as a journalist, but playing the “role” of another “Portuguese native”, curious like all the other inhabitants of the small village about what was going on with Madeleine McCann’s police investigation.
Before going there, those three times, I took some precautions. I shaved my hair just like a skinhead (I had it medium to long-sized), cut my moustache and, to help the “disguise”, at the time I already had to use glasses. It’s amazing how much these little details can change your appearance. I didn’t want to be recognized by other colleagues, journalist that knew me before.

I had something in my favor. In 1986, I went to Macau and stayed there until 1997. Came back to Portugal, worked on a national weekly newspaper “O Independente”, between 1989 and 2004. I had editorial responsibilities, so spend most of my time in the office, not in the street, reporting and getting in touch with other journalists. Between 2004 and 2008, I worked as a freelance journalist.
Many of the colleagues that knew me before 1986 had a successful career and are, actually, working at top jobs, in newspapers, radios and TV. The actual editor of “Correio da Manhã”, the leading daily newspaper in Portugal, Octávio Ribeiro, around 1984/85, was just a young man, friend of a fiend of mine, also journalist and, at the time, I think he wasn’t planning a career in journalism. My good friend António Ribeiro Ferreira, who I know since 1981 as we started as journalists at the same time, in the same newspaper, was until recently editor of a daily newspaper, the “i”. Nuno Tiago Pinto, who was a trainee at “O Independente”, now is deputy-editor of “Sábado”, a weekly news magazine. They just stay in the office, don't go out for reporting.

While I was at Praia da Luz, I kept a closed eye on Portuguese journalists that were there, reporting. They had the natural tendency of bundling together, exchanging tips and information, so it was easy to spot them. During those three stays at Praia da Luz, I detected only two journalists that knew me: Rui Gustavo, from the weekly “Expresso” and Francisco Leong, a photographer from Agence France Press.
I was sleeping in a tent with capacity only for one person, at a camping park, a few miles from Praia da Luz and I always parked my Honda CB 500 far from the place where action was going on, near the Ocean Club resort. I approached the area carefully, trying to spot those two friends and, in case of a “positive identification”, I just change my path and went to a coffee-shop near by, waiting until they left the area. 
When there was no risk to meet them, I approached the crowd of onlookers, tried to be close to the British journalists, listening what they were talking about. As it happens with most British coming to Portugal (and don’t take me wrong, I don’t want to be offensive) they believe “natives” could not understand English, so they talked. And talked  a lot.
After lunch, I spend time at the terrace of supermarket Batista, very close to Ocean Park and the only place where you could buy all British newspapers. But I never bought a single one, always choose one or two Portuguese newspaper and spend a long time reading them. Many British journalists spend their free time in that sunny terrace. They had laptops, mobile connection to Internet, fresh beer and some snacks. They sat down in groups of three or four and, once again, they talked among them with the same lack of basic precautions, convinced that the few “natives” sitting there English illiterates. 
At the end of the afternoon and after dinner time, I used to made a round up through a few bars were retired British expatriates met, for a couple of beers and a small chat. Late at night, I had the routine of going to the two only places that were open until dawn. There was a big disco, but I don’t remember the name, and a bar, I think it was known as the “Carlos Bar” – but I’m not absolutely sure.
There, I played the role of a joyful “native” who had a couple of beers more that he should, but always in a good and happy mood, choosing carefully my “targets” (groups of British journalists), making toasts with them, trying to make “contact”, and speaking in a rather primitive and basic English. 

Some people may question the ethics of this behavior, from the point of view of the Deontological Code of Portuguese Journalists, “spying” on his own colleagues. May be this a matter for discussion and debate and there will be, of course different views. I did what I did because, since the beginning of this case, when I was in Lisbon, sleeping 5/6 hours and spending the remaining of the day (and night) zapping through Sky News, BBC, ITV, checking dozens of British website newspapers and online news sites, I had the feeling that there was something strange, in the way UK Media was reporting the case.
I remember one of the first details that called my attention: the alleged broken shutters, and the Press reports “quoting” that “Gerry and Kate reportedly believed someone had ‘jemmied open’ the shutters to get into (Madeleine) her bedroom”.
A direct testimony of Kate McCann was more clear: at 10.00pm she checked the children and she becomes alarmed when she reaches out to the children's bedroom door and it blows shut. Inside the room, the window is open and the shutter is up. The twins are sleeping but Madeleine's bed is empty.” More details came from Gerry McCann. He told Polícia Judiciária “that, when he was first alerted to the disappearance, he had lowered the shutter, then had gone outside and discovered that it could be raised only from the outside”. Against this, the police said the shutter could not be raised from the outside without being forced, but there was no sign of forced entry; they also said forcing the shutter open would have caused a lot of noise. 
"Trish Cameron and Philomena McCann, Gerry’s sisters, Jill Renwick, a family friend and Jon Corner, Madeleine’s godparent were important key players in the McCann’s campaign of manipulation and distortion, since the early hours. Despite the clear and blunt denials of John Hill, the Ocean resort manager, Portuguese police and witnesses, they insisted that the shutters of apartment 5A were “jemmied” or “broken” and – small but interesting detail – the door, which had been locked, was open.”

The comments of John Hill were published and broadcasted by the British Media only in the first couple of days after Maddie disappeared. Than, as people was used to see in Soviet Union, something happened to Mr. John Hill: he just vanished from the newspapers pages and TV reports, like the rivals or supposed enemies of Stalin were erased from official pictures.
I collected a lot of information, during those three times I stayed “incognito” at Praia da Luz. I had the opportunity to find how the system set up byAlex Woolfall, from Bell Pottinger, worked, “managing” information realesed by PJ to the McCann couple and "feeding" it to be published and broadcasted (after some“adaptations”…) by British Media. It will be the subject, soon, of another detailed post in my blog
I must tell one of the most curious stories of this case. Around September 2007, after the McCann were made “arguidos”, his British lawyers fromCarter-Ruck asked for meetings with the editorial board of several UK Media organizations. One of the newspapers that got the request was a little bit uncomfortable, expecting something bad, from that meeting. So, minutes before, the team of lawyers from the newspaper came in and waited in another room, ready for a confrontation with Carter-Ruck lawyers, as they were expecting some kind of legal threat that could take them to court.
But the newspaper’s lawyers spend around 30 minutes waiting for nothing. All that theCarter-Ruck lawyers wanted to explain to the editorial board of that newspaper (and they did the same with other Media organizations) was that, according to the Portuguese Law, if there was no body found,the McCann never could be accused of nothing… 

That, is not truth. Recently, a group pf criminals kidnaped a Portuguese businessman, to demand a ransom. They killed him and dissolved his body in a tank with sulfuric acid, leaving no trace, not even a small piece that could be used for a DNA analysis. But they were arrested, went on trial and sentenced, because their phones were wiretapped and PJ collected other strong evidence, enough to convince the court send them to prison for 25v years.