By CHRIS GRAEME [email protected]
A Portuguese police officer investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in 2007 claimed in a Lisbon court on Tuesday that their investigation was being “controlled” by British police.
However, this claim was countered by a statement from Inspector Ricardo Paiva, who was the family liaison officer during the investigation, before being removed at the McCanns’ request, who told the Lisbon Civil Court that there was “total collaboration” between both police forces.
The court is hearing a case, initiated by Gerry and Kate McCann, in which they are seeking a ruling preventing Gonçalo Amaral from repeating claims he made about the couple in his book Maddie – A Verdade da Mentira (Maddie – the Truth of the Lie).
According to reports of the trial by Sky News, Ricardo Paiva also said that it was “Scotland Yard who first thought of it being a murder case”.
In his witness statements, Tavares de Almeida, Chief Inspector of Police at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance, said: “We were controlled by the British police. The British police kept information about the McCanns to themselves. The British authorities hindered investigations by withholding information.”
The first day of the hearing, which started after 10am and continued until 4pm, also revealed that a report into the missing three-year-old, signed by the same police chief, claimed she had “died in the family’s apartment as a result of a tragic accident”.
During his statements, attorney José Magalhães e Menezes said that text messages between Gerry and Kate McCann had been intercepted by the police who were “suspicious about their (possible) role in their daughter’s disappearance”, but the texts were not considered part of the investigation because the judge wouldn’t allow their use.
‘Nervous and excitable’
The same witness also added that the decision by the Portuguese authorities to declare the McCanns legal suspects or ‘arguidos’ was taken following the use of British sniffer dogs in the McCanns’ apartment and rental car. That status was later lifted when the Attorney General ruled there was no evidence against them.
“The dogs detected traces inside the dining room of the apartment and in the car the McCanns were using and in the villa they moved to subsequently.”
It was reported that a British police report had stated that one of the sniffer dogs was in a “nervous and excitable state” and “wanted to get into the room”.
He also stated that although the parents had been checking on their children it was “not as often as every 30 minutes” as had been suggested.
José Magalhães e Menezes was asked what the probability was of Madeleine “still being alive”, and replied that it was “equally probable” that she was alive as it was she was dead.
He went on to state that there were several possible charges which could have been brought against the couple including “kidnapping and selling the child”.
On arrival at Lisbon airport for the three-day hearing, the McCanns said that “no-one can be allowed to say that our daughter can’t be found without very good evidence” and that was “what the case is all about.”
The case continued on Wednesday, after the Algarve Resident went to press, and yesterday (Thursday).
Please visit www.algarveresident.com for updates on the case. And see next week’s edition of the Algarve Resident for comprehensive coverage.
Do you have a view on this story? Please email Editor Inês Lopes at [email protected]