Sunday

Oh, if only British journalists would write articles like this...


The Crucial Day, Part One - by Blacksmith

At 8.30 on the morning of May 4 a tired Kate and Gerry McCann, together with others of the Tapas group (some remained behind to baby sit), gathered outside the Ocean Club apartments to be taken by car to Portimao for the formal interview and statement-taking process. In contrast to the bedlam in Praia de Luz the previous night the relative calm of Portimao’s police headquarters offered a first opportunity for investigators to gain a clear picture of events on the evening of May 3 and find out more about the backgrounds, relationships and movements of the people involved.

Only when they had that information would a police team be in a position to formulate the detailed lines of a criminal inquiry rather than an emergency search exercise. As a PJ officer said, the initial reports from Praia de Luz indicated that “all hypotheses were open,” including, in the grim terminology of the police list, “woke and wandered,” accident/eventual death/hidden cadaver, bodily injuries resulting in death, negligent or intentional homicide, vengeance, kidnap for eventual ransom, sexual predation, and interrupted intruder.

In any inquiry each investigative possibility requires different management and a different allocation of resources and manpower, most of which has to be brought in from outside. A decision to concentrate on “woke and wandered,” for example, which included the chance of the child being seized and assaulted while missing, would require a high concentration of relatively unskilled manpower in the local area combined with intensive forensic work. Suggestions of an act of vengeance or malice, on the other hand, would need a totally different resource allocation, with much less manpower “on the ground” and a concentrated research effort into the actions and whereabouts of possible perpetrators. Accidental or other death at the hands of close associates, such as local employees, the holiday group itself or even the family, would require relatively limited, but very highly qualified, manpower and would need to concentrate on what a head of the PJ described as “pure investigation” – carefully analysing the whereabouts and statements of possible suspects and examining them over and over for conflicts and contradictions – “clues.” Lastly, abduction or kidnapping remains by far the most open-ended, intractable and resource-hungry line of enquiry, putting virtually limitless demands on police forces for as long as they can be afforded.

No sensible investigative effort, in any force, could make progress without this initial appraisal of evidence and weighting of possibilities and, even as the McCanns were preparing for their interviews, a police team in the recently established “crisis room” was brainstorming the affair accordingly. The trouble was that in this most extraordinary case they were losing control of planning, and the opportunity for cool analysis, almost before they had begun: control of events, and the determination of the future direction and scale of the investigation, was already slipping - or being taken - from their grasp.

Inspector Goncarlo Amaral, co-ordinator of the case, a man of considerable intelligence as well as instinct, about whom we shall hear more, sensed that something was happening but had no idea quite what it was. He was going over the ground in Praia de Luz while his juniors were conferring and organizing the statements in Portimao when he was taken aback by the sudden arrival at 10AM of the British Consul, present not only to confer but also,rather alarmingly, to express a view about the enquiry.

Amaral, who had apparently not been warned of his imminent arrival, let alone of his familiarity with events, gained the impression that the consul was “dissatisfied” with the police effort. But how could he be dissatisfied? How, in other words, wondered inspector Amaral, had he found out enough facts to make a critical appraisal of police performance?

Full article on Cracked Mirror