By: Cecília Pires
THE SEARCH for Madeleine McCann has now lasted for over a week, an agonising seven days for her parents and all involved in attempts to find the little girl.
Tomorrow (Saturday) is Madeleine’s fourth birthday and extensive efforts continue to be made to find even a trace of her whereabouts. Police receive daily information from different sources in Portugal and the Uk but, so far, all has been fruitless.
The many teams helping search for Madeleine, both official and unofficial, are exhausted – but not defeated. Search operations have been carried out day after day, night after night, by a growing number of agents from all over the country in a desperate race against time since the girl’s disappearance on Thursday evening (May 3) in Praia da Luz.
The involvement of the Polícia Judiciária (PJ) since the early hours of Friday morning indicate the case has been handled as a serious crime case from the beginning. The question for the investigators has always been the motive for the abduction.
Speaking to The Resident, chief-inspector Olegário Sousa from the PJ, said that “if this was a simple case of disappearance, we would not have been called right away.”
In an attempt to clarify the situation, he said that under Portuguese criminal law, cases of severe crime cover many situations, from kidnapping and murder. With kidnapping, the motive can, usually, be money or sexual abuse.
However, he said, it is impossible to determine at this stage of the investigation if it is a case of sexual abuse.
The Portuguese media has claimed that the main line of the police investigation on Tuesday and Wednesday this week was that Madeleine had been abducted on the orders of an international network of illegal adoptions.
Olegário Sousa denied this, saying he “regrets” the fact that the Portuguese press is not “paying attention” at the press meetings.
“We are still trying to figure out the motivation for this crime,” he said, again refusing to give any elements on the investigations.
“People must understand we have a system of law that was pretty much created to prevent the police abuses that existed before 1974 (the April 25 revolution), when we lived in a non-democratic political regime,” he said.
“Today, everyone is protected by the law; victims and criminals have a right to justice and that is one of the reasons we have that secret of justice constraint.”
It is clear that, as time goes by and despite what might happen, police will be under more and more pressure to reveal facts about the investigation process.
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