History of a failure

by Marisa Rodrigues*

Precipitation, political pressures, manipulation, subservience to England and excessive media exposure dictated the failure of the investigation that made rivers of ink flow. The trace of Madeleine Beth McCann was lost at the age of three on the 3rd of May 2007, in Praia da Luz, near Lagos.

Archived due to a lack of evidence, the process leaves deep marks in the history of the Polícia Judiciária (PJ), that revealed itself as weak and permeable. It exposed the lack of independence of the institution, as well as its difficulty in dealing with an adverse environment of which there is no shortage of examples – the absence of cooperation from the British police and diligences that the PJ failed to carry out after refusals from the Public Ministry and from the Instruction judge in Portimão.

For the first time ever, the Judiciária was scrutinised and under attack from various fronts, both inside and outside of the institution. With the British ambassador travelling from Lisbon to Praia da Luz, in order to publicly support the McCann couple, in the name of his country’s government, the route that would lead to a dead end was starting to form. During the days after the disappearance, the PJ was forced to announce that Madeleine had been abducted, that there was already a suspect and a photofit. False. A short while later, the will of the English press was satisfied, with the forced nomination of a spokesman, an inspector who had nothing to do with the process.

The child’s parents didn’t help at all. Throughout multiple meetings, they insisted on the abduction theory and gave contradictory statements, just like the friends with whom they had been on holidays. Sending the biological residues to Birmingham was the ultimate shot in the foot. The results were late and inconclusive. Nothing changed, not even when the coordinator, Gonçalo Amaral, was dismissed, in October 2007, at a time when the theory of accidental homicide was gaining strength. Unable to handle the “lack of support”, he retired early and wrote a book, “The Truth of the Lie”, in order to publicise his theory. This year, during the era of Paulo Rebelo (who was nominated by the PJ to lead the Portimão department and to direct the investigation), the process did end up being archived. Thus the “prophecy” of the Attorney General, Pinto Monteiro, who announced “fearing” an unsuccessful investigation in May, came true. Three months [earlier], the then National Director of the PJ, Alípio Ribeiro, had already admitted that there had been “precipitation” in making Kate and Gerry arguidos.

source: Jornal de Notícias, 28.12.2008; online & paper editions

*this text is part of an article titled "10 things to forget about from 2008"

Translation by astro