Monday, 7 July 2008

PJ was not informed about Leicestershire police decision

PJ “was not informed that the McCann couple would have access to documents related with the investigation of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann”, according to a source from the National Direction of PJ, quoted by Rádio Renascença (RR). The same source told Rádio Renascença that PJ “has no idea about what kind of documents the McCann will have access”. Leicestershire Police made an agreement with the McCann and, according to AFP, the couple “dropped a bid in the British courts to force disclosure of the information held by Leicestershire Police in central England where they live.”

Leicestershire Police will release “81 pieces of evidence which relate to calls from members of the public to police soon after Madeleine disappeared.” Clarence Mitchell, speaking outside the court, told journalists that the 81 pieces of information released by Leicestershire Police will go “to our private investigators, who will work on it, all as a priority. Anyone of those could unlock the information that could lead to Madeleine being found."

Friday, 4 July 2008

Gonçalo Amaral and Madeleine's case: “There was more politics than police”

The former Polícia Judiciária investigator criticized the PJ director and the Justice minister, on a interview, tonight, with TVI, a Portuguese TV channel. Asked if he believed that Madeleine was dead, Gonçalo Amaral said that he was “convinced” she was dead “based on the evidence collected”. When the journalist asked: “Was she killed, there (in the apartment)?”, the former PJ inspector said: “She died there”. About Madeleine's parents being named as formal suspects, Amaral spoke about “strong evidence” as the base for the decision and referred that “there was a common understanding”, between Portuguese and British police officers involved in the investigation, about the fact that Madeleine was dead.

There was evidence, about two different crimes – which were referred by the defence lawyer, Pinto de Abreu, in a public statement – and it was hiding a body and a criminal simulation. That was the situation, when I left the investigation,” Mr. Amaral said. The former PJ inspector, who has a Law Degree from Lisbon University, mentioned the fact that “these kind of cases of disappearance, frequently bring with it other crimes, sometimes fake statements or physical abuse”.

Questioned about the fact that the McCann were not accused of negligence or child abandonment, Amaral said that “it was clear they (the McCann children) were not safe”, when Madeleine disappeared, but reminded that it's easier, with UK laws, to charge parents in those kind of situations, once the Portuguese Law is more complex, it requires the existence of intention to left the children in a dangerous situation. Gonçalo Amaral refused to comment any decision from the Public Prosecutor's Office of from the Courts and refused to admit that he was “frustrated” with those decisions. Asked about his removal from the investigation, the former PJ inspector told the journalist that he had no contact with PJ director, on that day, and he only knew the reasons when he had a “private conversation” with Alípio Ribeiro – refusing to give details about it.

Gonçalo Amaral revealed that the “statement” he gave to Diário de Notícias – and was the reason for his removal, according to the PJ director – was not correctly reproduced and it was not a statement to a newspaper, but just an informal talk with a journalist from Faro, “very close to the family, a friend of my wife”, who called him to ask about the email sent to the web site of Prince Charles, denouncing a former employee of Ocean Club as the kidnapper. “What I said, talking not to a journalist, but with a friend, a personal talk, was that Police should concentrate in what was the common conclusion of British and Portuguese Police: the child was dead and it was necessary to consolidate the existing evidence and move forward, to find where she could be and what happened.” At that moment, the kidnapping line of inquiry was “already closed”, and “another door was opened”, Mr. Amaral said. When asked about the existence of political interference in the investigation, is answer was short and clear: “I think there was more politics than police.”

We did our job, the best we knew and we were the target of a lot critics and insults, from the British newspapers”, the former PJ inspector said. When the case of Joana Cipriano was first raised by the British Media, Mr. Amaral contacted the PJ director and called the attention for the risks, because those news about his alleged involvement in the “torture” of the mother of Joana Ciprianio would be, soon, a large campaign against him, and talked about the convenience of taking him out of investigation. “What they told me, later, was that I had all the support and should continue the work.”

Surprised” with his removal from the investigation, Gonçalo Amaral used a popular Portuguese phrase to explain what he felt, when he knew about his removal: “I felt as I was kicked up in the ass, on October 2.” About the influence and importance of the McCann, Mr. Amaral said that “there is a all story to be told, about this case, and I think that the journalists that followed this case, have a great opportunity and responsibility, in helping to understand what happened. This is really, a case that is different from all other cases.” Gonçalo Amaral criticized the Justice minister, who said, after his removal, that “it was, now, time to work”: “Mr. Justice Minister Alberto Costa, we worked hard.”

Download the audio from the full TVI report and interview here.

(Transcription with the help of Cláudia)

Amaral is looking for a British lawyer

The former PJ investigator's legal representative has contacted two British lawyers, to launch a libel suit against several British newspapers. The first lawyer contacted accepted to represent Mr. Gonçalo Amaral but, two weeks after, changed his mind. The same happened with a second lawyer. “I don't know what is going on, over there, but I'm convinced this is not a problem of Democracy. United Kingdom is a democratic country, with democratic laws, so everybody should have its rights (to a legal defence). I don't understand what's going on”, Mr. Amaral told to Lusa News Agency.

July 7 High Court session confirmed

Court Hearings – Family Division

Court 20
Monday, 7 July, 2008
At 10:30 AM
FD07P01121 McCann
Applications/Summonses in Court as in Chambers

Gonçalo Amaral: "The day I was taken off the case, I was preparing the process to bring to Portugal a key witness”

The former Criminal Coordinator of PJ, Gonçalo Amaral, now retired, told the weekly "Expresso" that the decision to take him out of the case was "unfair and dangerous". Gonçalo Amaral said that "he and other persons" believe Madeleine is dead and he was preparing to bring to Portugal a "key witness", on the day the head of PJ decided to replace him with Paulo Rebelo, in the investigation of Madeleine's disappearance. "That key witness never came to Portugal and (PJ) never took her statement", Amaral told the "Expresso".

He also revealed that "colleagues involved in the investigation asked the head of PJ for an internal inquiry, to find out if their work wasn't properly done." Questioned if he had committed any mistake, Mr. Gonçalo Amaral answered: "I made one mistake. The first hour mistake. There are things I cant't yet talk about. We are aware that some things could have been done in a different way. Nobody should be shocked if we had started the investigation evaluating if the parents were or were not related with the case." Asked if he had anything to tell to Gerry and Kate McCann, Gonçalo Amaral said: “I have nothing to tell them. My main concern is about the child, not the parents.”

(To be continued)

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

July 7 High Court session “postponed”

The story published today by the Guardian has another very interesting paragraph. It says that the McCann “were due to launch a high court case in London on Monday to get access to details of the case held by Leicestershire police, their local force. It is believed this case will be postponed while the couple await news from Portuguese prosecutors.” So, that Court action was due do be launched on July 7.

On June 21, The Daily Mail wrote: “The McCanns have now applied to the court to consider ordering Leicestershire Police to disclose their files on scores of reported sightings of their missing daughter - many of which have been passed on to them by police in Portugal (...) The case will be heard in the High Court on July 7 in the Family Division. However, it is not known if it will be heard in open court because Madeleine is a minor, and has protected status as a ward of court.” Clarence Mitchell is quoted, in that edition of the Daily Mail, as saying: “An application has been made on Madeleine's behalf by her parents for disclosure of certain documents.”

On June 23, on The Telegraph, Clarence Mitchell was more precise: ““I can state that on the instigation of Gerry and Kate McCann Madeleine is a ward of the High Court of England and Wales. An application has been made on Madeleine’s behalf by her parents for disclosure of certain documents. The hearing is currently scheduled for July 7 in the High Court in London.”

So, according to the Daily Mail, on June 21, the McCann had already “applied to the court to consider ordering Leicestershire Police to disclose their files on scores of reported sightings of their missing daughter (...)” Clarence Mitchell even confirmed that “an application has been made on Madeleine's behalf by her parents for disclosure of certain documents.”

And according to The Telegraph, on June 23, Clarence Mitchell went further and, after confirming the “application has been made” also said that the hearing was “scheduled for July 7 in the High Court in London.” But, according to the Guardian, on July 2, the McCann “were due to launch a high court case in London”, on July 7, “to get access to details of the case held by Leicestershire police, their local force.” Am I missing some detail, or this is a little bit confused?

The Guardian, a newspaper that also needs a good translator

The Guardian seems to have misunderstood the official statement issued by Mr. Pinto Monteiro, the head of Public Prosecutor's Office (“Procuradoria-Geral da República – PGR). The newspaper quotes part of the statement, but something has been lost in translation. According to the Guardian, that statement “said the report would be considered carefully, adding: 'The prosecutor's office will proceed with the global analysis and evaluation of the whole case (which contains dozens of files) in order to determine whether or not the necessary and sufficient conditions have been met allowing for the case's closure”.

What is missing, here? Let's take a look at a more precise translation of the same paragraph, from BBC: "Public prosecutors will proceed to the overall analysis to determine whether or not other action is necessary or whether the conditions are sufficient to rule that the investigation be closed and a final ruling made.” Is this just incompetence?

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Mr. Clarence Mitchell needs the help of a good translator

"As I understand, the attorney general has clarified that the police have effectively dropped all possible lines of inquiry and have handed their files to the prosecutor and he will make the final decision on whether Kate and Gerry are charged or the investigation is closed”, Clarence Mitchell told The Independent.

But what Mr. Pinto Monteiro said, according to BBC – and the formal statement posted at PGR site, today - was that “the final report from the Polícia Judiciária had been received by prosecutors, and it 'will be the object of careful analysis and consideration. Public prosecutors will proceed to the overall analysis to determine whether or not other action is necessary or whether the conditions are sufficient to rule that the investigation be closed and a final ruling made”.

McCann searching for Madeleine with their "very sophisticated intelligence gathering operation"

Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for McCann couple, told BBC that if Portuguese “police now planned to stop searching for Madeleine”, the “thousands of pieces of information” in the police files “must be made public so the McCanns could carry on their own hunt”, using “their own 'very sophisticated intelligence gathering operation", according to BBC.

PJ final report with Public Prosecutor's Office, secrecy laws to be lifted in August

The final report about Madeleine's disappearance investigations was sent, by PJ, to the Public Prosecutor's Office, “Procuradoria-Geral da República” (PGR). An official statement from PGR says that the Public Prosecutor's Office “will now analyse the files (several dozen dossiers) in order to decide if other actions need to be taken or the conditions required to close the case are fulfilled.” According to the same statement, the confidentiality of the case remains until August.

Duarte Levy (Praia da Luz) and Paulo Reis (Lisbon)

"Operation Private Business"

A agent from "SIS"  ["Serviços de Informações e Segurança" - Portuguese  Intelligence Services]  finds himself in the ...