McCanns’ Portuguese lawyer, Isabel Duarte, speaaks to the Mirror


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    McCanns’ Portuguese lawyer, Isabel Duarte, speaaks to the Mirror

    Post  Sykes on Tue Jun 03, 2014 7:41 am


    Madeleine McCann search 'unprecedented operation' as British police descend on holiday complex for dig
    Jun 02, 2014 22:30 By Martin Fricker

    A dozen British detectives and uniformed police descended on the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz, where the youngster disappeared days before her fourth birthday

    After seven years of heartache, Kate and Gerry McCann face new agony as police began digging near the Algarve holiday complex where their daughter Madeleine disappeared.

    In an unprecedented operation initiated by Scotland Yard, officers were concentrating their search on an overgrown area of scrubland as the McCanns were said to be bracing themselves for “significant news.

    A dozen British detectives and uniformed police descended on the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz, where the three-year-old vanished in May 2007.

    The search team, liaising with Portuguese authorities, spent more than seven hours mapping out the area, just 300 yards from the family apartment where she was last seen.

    The Operation Grange team erected three forensic tents in specific spots as part of the most significant development since Madeleine was snatched.

    Detectives are expected to start using ground-penetrating radar and begin excavation work for clues that could solve the tragic case.

    The McCanns’ Portuguese lawyer, Isabel Duarte, said the distraught couple “just want to know exactly what happened to their daughter”.

    She added: “It is my belief that police have some very good information to be carrying out ground searches.

    “I believe there is data in the criminal file which has led to this operation because, if not, police would not be performing this very drastic task.

    “Kate and Gerry have not been given any information that Madeleine is dead, and until this happens they have to believe she is still alive.

    “But they think police will come up with some significant news. It is such a stressful time for them and my heart goes out to them.

    "It has been so long, and the investigating officers now have new information and there may finally be some answers.”

    Ms Duarte added: “I don’t need to ask them how they are feeling. It is very clear.

    "But it is not for me to say if they fear the worse.”

    It was the evening of May 3, 2007 – just nine days before her fourth birthday – when Madeleine went missing from the ground floor apartment while her parents dined in a tapas restaurant with friends.

    The Portuguese police case - which was criticised after Kate and Gerry, from Rothely, Leics. were named formal suspects – was shelved the following year.

    Operation Grange was set up in 2011 to re-investigate the disappearance after David Cameron ordered Scotland Yard to review all the evidence.

    UK police have made numerous trips to Portugal this is the first time they have carried out a search.

    But the move has angered locals – with the resort’s mayor speaking of his “regret” at the police activity.

    Victor Mata said the timing of the search “couldn’t be worse” and that residents were being “punished” by the renewed investigation.

    He said: “With every search, it doesn’t seem like we’re going anywhere – we’re going backwards.

    "There was a battalion of people out here looking for the child seven years ago.

    “Everybody was looking. Everyone wanted to find her. People criss-crossed that land as they did other parts of the village.

    "This is a time when the number of people in Luz increases four-fold.

    "Livelihoods here depend on the three summer months and this disruption is not good for business.

    “I know of at least two hotels which have had cancellations as a direct result of the searches.

    "But if police are certain their searches will bear fruit, locals here will be the first to assist.

    “We are not against the searches, but we’d have appreciated it if they could have started in a few months’ time.”

    One woman, known as locally as Nana, felt so strongly that she walked up to the site on Rua 25 da Abril with a handmade placard saying: “Dig up lies, not Luz”.

    She said: “I’m very angry, frustrated, furious. This has such a detrimental effect on Luz locally, for tourism.

    "People live off tourism. Luz is suffering – and that’s why I’m angry.”

    The search is the biggest policing operation linked to Madeleine’s disappearance since the initial hunt wound down a month after she went missing.

    The scrubland, which overlooks the resort’s beach, was sealed off by Portuguese officer under cover of darkness in the early hours.

    A military plane flew over the site and took detailed images which were emailed to the British team on the ground.

    They compared the photographs with satellite imagery taken in 2007 to see if any soil has been moved over the past seven years.

    A remote-controlled drone was later seen hovering above the scrubland - which is close to where a suspect was seen with a girl in his arms on the night Madeleine was abducted.

    British police arrived in Praia da Luz at 9.30am and held a briefing with local detectives in a makeshift command centre just yards from the McCanns’ old apartment.

    Both groups emerged at 11.15am and left in convoy with two rented UK Europcar vans which contained the ground-penetrating radar, spades and other items.

    They then mapped out the area - the size of three football pitches - with hi-tech surveying equipment.

    The search site is on land owned by Belmiro de Azevedo – Portugal’s second richest man and 605th on the Forbes rich list.

    Officers are expected to carry out similar searches at two more sites in the resort later this week.

    Scotland Yard refused to comment on the dig. Portuguese cops have also reopened their inquiry into, but have refused to set up an official joint investigation.

    A local police source said: “All the technical resources have been brought in from England.

    “This includes archeologists, sniffer dogs and a ground-penetrating radar, while the Portuguese resources consist of pickaxes and a digger.”

    Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns’ official spokesman said the couple were “being kept informed” .

    Radar to reveal buried secrets
    A modern ground-penetrating radar system allows detectives hunting for Madeleine to target excavations far more specifically than was possible before.

    The four-wheeled device in use at Praia da Luz is made by the Swedish firm Mala Geoscience and costs around £24,000.

    It can scan an area the size of a football pitch every day.

    A similar device was used to find the remains of Richard III in a Leicester car park recently.

    The machine works in a similar way to sonar but instead of sending out soundwaves it emits a radio pulse, which is reflected back from below the ground.

    The signals can reveal the location of buried objects of all kinds with a different density or different electrical properties to the surrounding material.

    Data can be read on a screen as the machine moves and is also stored in an onboard computer for further analysis by a geophysicist.

    Gerry McCann has been given permission to speak in the £1million libel trial of Portuguese detective Goncalo Amaral, who claimed in a book that Maddie’s abduction was faked.

    Truth is the Daughter of Time

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