By: Cecília Pires
AFTER A LONG DAY of waiting, authorities finally spoke to the press on Monday evening. Unfortunately, the only new information was that all efforts were being made to find little Madeleine McCann.
The short statement, made both in Portuguese and English by top officials, simply said that police were intensively working on the case and that all was being done.
Before an audience of several dozen journalists, photographers and cameramen, the group of police commanders was faced with many questions.
Everyone wanted to know about the sketch police had based on descriptions from different sources. Is there was any picture? Is there an indication that person described was an English citizen?
To all those questions, the answer was succinct: “That’s an aspect of the investigation we cannot talk about,” the chief-inspector from Polícia Judiciária, Olegário Sousa, said.
On being asked if there was even the smallest indication that Madeleine was still alive, he replied: “I cannot make any prognosis on that. I do not have elements to answer. But I can guarantee that all is being done to recover the little girl as fast as possible.”
The strategy used on the borders control was also questioned by reporters at the Portimão Press Conference. Why is it being done once in a while and not always?
“As we all know, European borders are open,” said Olegário Sousa. “There is free circulation of people and goods. Borders are opened so that people can circulate. That comes from political agreements and not from the police enforcement.”
This reporter asked about reports of a bag being looked at by the maritime authorities. The Chief Inspector’s response was short: “Don’t get me wrong, but I cannot respond to that.”
He would not be drawn over the possibility of the kidnapping of the little Madeleine McCann: “For the time being we are dealing with the disappearance of a little girl under circumstances not completely clear.” He added that abduction was being considered. “But the information on paedophilia networks is complete rubbish.”
Madeleine’s parents, he said, had been assured that all agents involved were doing their best to find her alive. “I want to say to all the British community in Algarve, and especially the family, that I cannot imagine what they are feeling now. But I want assure them that all professionals are doing their best to solve her disappearance.”
Finally, the most repeated question was put again – why were matters so slow?
Once again, the answer given was that Portuguese laws do not allow police declarations after the beginning of a criminal investigation.
“We have the secret of the justice rule and much information cannot be released because of that.”