Friday, October 23, 2015

Goncalo Amaral Faith Beyond Reason?

Goncalo Amaral maintains he still has faith in the Portuguese justice system. Unless his words are an exercise in rhetoric for the benefit of said system, which they may well be, I find it quite a bizarre thing to come out with given the justice he has received so far.

Anything less than a complete overturn of the award against him, can hardly be called justice.

Can it?

Amaral supporters call time as appeal fund approaches €70,000
Portugal Press
October 22, 2015

For reasons that are remaining very quiet, the friends and supporters of former “Maddie cop” Gonçalo Amaral have called time on the gofundme online appeal set up to fund his legal expenses as he challenges the court decision ordering him to pay the parents of Madeleine McCann over €500,000 in damages.

The Legal Defence for Gonçalo Amaral page will be closing on Wednesday, October 28.

At time of writing, it had already raised over €69,860 and donations were still coming in.

The latest, as of lunchtime today (Thursday), was for €100.

Over the last five months, 2,757 people have responded to the gofundme campaign, set up by a young single mother from Birmingham who was only 14 when Madeleine went missing.

Leanne Baulch, 22, explained to us back in May that she had never imagined the response her initiative received, but she felt compelled to do it as she was “desperate to help” a man she felt was being “persecuted”.

But as the money flowed in, so too did the unpleasantness, including slurs in the British press that the fund was powered by “sick online trolls”.

With Ms Baulch considering her position as a single parent of a toddler, she removed herself from the process altogether a few months ago.

The fund then transferred into the hands of the friends of the former PJ detective whose book, “A Verdade da Mentira”, landed him in the hot seat of litigation - with all his assets, including bank accounts “frozen” - in 2008.

Unpleasantness appears nonetheless to have continued, with internet manipulation of the appeal’s online code so that a few weeks ago, it virtually disappeared from sight (see

Now those in charge of the fund have decided it should close.

Using the headline “Sufficient” - which translated into Portuguese also stands for “Enough” - they have said: “We believe that it is time to close the gofundme page, as the bank account currently stands at an amount that seems largely sufficient to face eventual future expenses”.

A source has confirmed to the Resident that other forms of fundraising remain open, while Amaral’s fundraisers are aware that whatever the result of the latest appeal being considered by Lisbon’s Appellate Court, litigation will continue.

“If Amaral is successful, for example, we remain fairly certain that the McCann’s would appeal that decision. And so it continues. The next step would be the Supreme Court and then after that the Constitutional Court”.

And should Amaral lose the fight which he feels centres on his right to freedom of expression then a new online appeal will be needed to fund a case against Portuguese justice in the European Court of Human Rights.

Thus, for now, it is a case of “serenely awaiting” the next judicial decision, while Amaral’s supporters are no less determined to keep funding avenues open.

Sending out the latest message to subscribers, the group of friends writing collectively said: “May we use this moment to wholeheartedly thank those who have expressed their support for Gonçalo Amaral’s right to an appropriate defence. Whether you have contributed financially or by sending a support message, you have made an impact. You have made a difference”.

As we wrote this article, yet another donation was received as the six-day countdown to closure begins.

Meantime, fund organisers continue to confirm that they will donate any money left unused on legal expenses to a Portuguese children’s charity. Source

That said, there appears to be a rush of donations before the fund closes, some quite considerable.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Access All Areas by Dr Martin Roberts

 In retrospect there are a couple of topics surrounding this case to which I feel I should have given more attention, the crèche records to mention one and Robert Murat another.

My reasons for not doing so, or my excuse if you will, is that the amount of work I was producing at the time was such, that some areas of this case received less than my undivided attention. In truth the crèche records receiving no attention whatsoever.

But of Murat I can offer no excuse, I committed the cardinal sin, I took him at face value. And if there is one thing this case has taught us, nothing but nothing can be evaluated thus.

There was one occasion however when Murat chinked my hinky meter. After having . . .
"the total and utter destruction of mine and my family's life and caused immense distress"
for which he was duly compensated, later went on to utter this:
Mr Murat said: “It must be a ­tremendously difficult time of year for them and of course as a human being you feel for them and for the loss of their daughter. Express
Now I know it could be a matter of personalities, but had I gone though all the trauma that Murat claims to have experienced, I don't think I would be quite so forgiving, or quite so magnanimous. Far from it. Very far from it. 

Given the subsequent revelations writ below, I conclude that every word that has passed Murat's lips is suspect, and by default must also include anything said by his mother, Jenny Murat.


By Dr Martin Roberts
15 October 2015

On the 4 May, 2007, following the international (no less) announcement of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance from apartment 5A, the Ocean Club literally played ‘open-house’. Robert Murat, who was on the scene and talking to GNR officers that very morning, later said, when questioned as ‘arguido’ on 14 July:
“Together with an officer of the GNR and an employee of the resort with several keys, entered several apartments, opened with the keys or by the tenants in order to locate the child. Some of the apartments were closed and there were no keys, these sites were flagged by the GNR man.

“At that time he met John Hill, manager of MARK WARNER, who supplied them with more keys to other apartments.

“Prior to this occasion, he did not know the interior of the "Ocean Club", only entering the resort after the disappearance.

“In the meantime the tracker dogs arrived that undertook a more rigorous form of search.”
Sure enough. There is a statement on record from Marina Castela (Ocean Club general manager), taken on 16 May, which describes Robert Murat’s entering various apartments as he later said, but not quite the way he said it:
“She saw the suspect, Robert Murat, for the first time on that day at about 12.30 when the witness went to meet GNR officers whom she cannot identify, to open the doors for them and speak to guests staying in apartments in block 6….

“When she was beginning this task together with GNR officers, this individual appeared, she does not know from where, he immediately saw what operations were going on, speaking ostensibly to the guests from the first two apartments, explaining to them what they were doing there, showing much will and anxiety in the transmission of this information.

“Given his behaviour, for a few minutes the witness thought that he belonged to one of the security forces, namely the PJ.

“The GNR officer who was with them did not speak any English nor say anything.

“After the second apartment, the witness says that Robert's attitude was not the most correct, as he spoke to the guests in a very dry and affirmative way and she took the initiative to introduce herself to the clients, not letting him speak.

“She thinks that is the reason why he immediately disappeared and did not accompany them to the rest of the apartments.”
Not exactly the tandem task as described by Murat. John Hill also seems not to have put in an appearance on this occasion either (in his own statement to police of 20 June, he makes no mention of his own activities that day or any interaction with Robert Murat for any purpose whatsoever).

Since Ms Castela describes Murat’s intervention here as occurring shortly after 12.30 p.m., we might suppose that he was dressed in a blue t-shirt and jeans – not because she says so, but because others did.

Sisters Annie Wiltshire and Jayne Jensen were reported (The Sun - 27 December, 2007) to have interacted socially with Robert Murat that very same day (4 May), having not long previously been to the police to report having seen two men acting suspiciously on the ground floor balcony of a supposedly empty (block 5) apartment the afternoon before (3 May). The sisters apparently thought it odd when Murat announced:
‘I must go and shower and change, I’ve been in these clothes all day.’
According to their account, he had been in a striped shirt and grey trousers not long beforehand.

This report was picked up from one first appearing in the Portuguese press (Diario de Noticias). The Sun also tells how the sisters ‘have given an "extensive interview" to cops detailing their suspicions about suspect Robert Murat’ (and of which there is no trace among the files released to the public – perhaps because the sisters apparently voiced their concerns to Leicestershire Police on their return to the UK, and the questionable Spanish agency Metodo 3 subsequently, their information welcomed by that ubiquitous ‘source close to the investigation’).

The reliability of Witshire and Jensen’s further sighting of Robert Murat (outside the apartments on the night of 3 May, and deemed significant by that aforementioned ‘source’) is of less immediate relevance than their description of Robert Murat’s keenness to divest himself of a blue t-shirt, which he had presumably done by the time he made his way to block 6 and his interaction with Maria Castela. Although she had misgivings about his demeanour, she made no comment as to his ‘sweaty’ attire.

Someone who did observe Robert Murat’s style of dress, however, was property manager Barend Weijdom (interviewed by police on 16 May, 2007). He recalled seeing Murat on the morning of 4 May dressed in a yellow shirt and light coloured trousers. These may or may not have been grey, but Weijdom makes no reference to stripes in respect of the shirt (as distinctive a feature as its colour one would imagine).

Blue t-shirt, yellow shirt, striped or otherwise, wearing the garment since breakfast hardly equates to ‘all day’ endurance when scarcely noon. If the Wiltshire-Jensen retelling has any substance, then there is something odd about Murat’s apologia to them, just as there would seem to be about his inspection story, as it relates to Block 6 at least, especially since none of the GNR officers interviewed, including dog handlers, recorded having been in the company of one Robert Murat that morning, 4 May. But someone else did.

Barend Weijdom’s role as property manager saw him responsible for apartment 5E, which, like 5J diagonally above it, was unoccupied at the time. Such was his professional concern, that on the morning of the 4th he suggested to the authorities that they check it out, in case it too had been entered inappropriately (the McCanns having first reported a break-in don’t forget). The core of Weijdom’s statement is particularly germane:
“He went to the apartment with a GNR officer and after a few seconds Robert Murat also entered the apartment without anyone having requested his presence.

“The witness says that he found Murat's presence in the apartment to be strange, adding that after he entered the apartment he gave the witness a 'pat on the side' and said 'thanks for your collaboration'. During this situation the witness thought that Murat worked for the police. On that morning the witness saw Murat moving around the site a lot…”
Here, at last, we have Robert Murat entering an Ocean Club apartment in the company of a GNR officer and one other. Except he didn’t. He followed them inside. And far from being an Ocean Club employee brandishing a set of keys, Weijdom was an independent operator, making use of one key in his possession. (It seems as if Murat has deliberately conflated his experience at 5E with that of his later visit to block 6).

Robert Murat’s explanation of his activities in relation to this sorry tale are therefore inaccurate, and not for the first time. Weijdom’s brief account enables us to draw a few pertinent conclusions besides.

Murat’s attention grabbing (‘Look at me, I’m a policeman’) behaviour, enacted in the presence of Maria Castela and her GNR associates at Block 6 on the Friday afternoon, had first been practised in and around block 5 that same morning. Apartment 5E was one of six in block 5 that were not in Mark Warner’s custody, so to speak (E, F, G, J, N, O were not on cleaner Maria da Silva’s rosta). Since we know that 5G was occupied by its owner, Mrs Fenn, and that responsibility for 5E had been delegated to Barend Weijdom (who had a key to the place), it seems only reasonable to suppose that 5J, also known to have been empty for quite a period of time, was itself owned in absentia, and the key left in the charge of a local ‘manager’ (such as Barend Weijdom, for example).

We don’t really know what Robert Murat was wearing that morning; the different accounts conflict. We can however tell that his self-aggrandizing explanation for his presence in and around the Ocean Club on Friday 4 May is an exaggeration at the very least, a lie at worst, as is his claim, again made during his ‘arguido’ interview that:

“never in his life has he entered the apartment where Madeleine was when she disappeared, neither before nor after the events under investigation."
‘Never’ was a rather dangerous word to use under the circumstances, especially when one considers Weijdom’s further evidence:
“On that morning the witness saw Murat moving around the site a lot and saw him enter and leave the apartment Madeleine disappeared from, without knowing whether he was with anyone there. He said that Murat moved a lot between the authorities and journalists.”
Indeed the witness testimony of conscientious Barend Weijdom should be given more than merely due regard:
“He heard about the news being investigated on the evening of 3rd May at about 21.30 - 21.40 from P**** B******, a Dutchman and owner of the Atlantico restaurant, who passed by the witness near the Baptista supermarket, in P da L and who asked for his help in searching for Madeleine.

“He then went to the place where the events occurred which was at about 21.45 - 21.50. At this time various local people and MW staff were present.”
When did Kate McCann say she did her ‘check’ again?

Martin Roberts