Despite their experiences Kate & Gerry McCann seem surprisingly ignorant of law. There is no such thing – no mechanism, no legal basis, no money - as an international legal “review” of a national criminal case: it is, for too many reasons to list here, impossible.
And it is quite unnecessary. Once again we return to the question: when will the parents cease asking and start acting - to co-operate, finally, with the existing investigation? What is it that prevents them from doing so?
…a few days make“We are pleased that the investigation remains so active and we are cooperating fully with the Portuguese and British police, as we have done since day 1.”
Let us go back to that investigation, which is merely shelved, not closed. Why is it shelved?
“The investigation will have a new coordinator appointed to replace chief inspector Amaral. We are happy to continue cooperating with the Portuguese authorities.”
When Rebelo took over the case and reviewed his predecessor’s work he was able to move in only one direction – the same one as Amaral.
He found not a single line of enquiry regarding an abduction that led anywhere. The various private investigators - for what they’re worth - who “reviewed” Rebelo’s work have found the same thing: no evidence of anyone outside Praia da Luz being involved in the disappearance, no trail to follow.
After checking those within PDL including, of course, Robert Murat, (who, unlike the other two arguidos, fully co-operated), only one practical line of investigation remained: the activities and evidence of the nine people around Madeleine McCann on May 3.
Certain things were clear:
1) The forensic evidence for either their involvement or exoneration was absent.
2) There were inconsistencies in their evidence.
3) Arguido status for the parents meant they could not be compelled to co-operate in the search for the child.
4) There was no legal basis for forcing the 7 to co-operate in the search if they did not wish to.
By November 2007 Rebelo’s task, then, was straightforward: to find out whether the nine would co-operate voluntarily. If they did so then the search for the child could move forward; if not it would be incapable – in the absence of any other leads - of further progress. With nowhere else to go it would have to be shelved.
“On Saturday we asked the Portuguese police if they had any objection to us coming back to the UK. We had assured them that we will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation and of course will return as requested.”
Despite their protestations of co-operation the McCanns made no effort to return to assist. On the contrary: KM had already refused to answer further questions and the pair were consulting expert lawyers in their own defence.
That left the question of whether the 7 would co-operate voluntarily. Accordingly the rogatory letters were issued for interviews in the UK, which took place in April 2008, with Rebelo observing. In those interviews the 7 made it clear that they had no stomach for returning to Portugal to assist the missing child.
That was enough for Rebelo: he left even before the interviews were completed, having already gained the answer to his remaining question. Before the rogatory interviews had been translated and analysed he officially requested their assistance in a reconstruction and the answers he expected from the 7 were received in late April.
On the basis that the evidence to help discover the child’s fate was incomplete and that there was no prospect of the 9 assisting in its completion he immediately moved to conclude the case.
That is how the Portuguese search for Madeleine McCann – not the criminal investigation of the parents, but the effort to find out the fate of the child - stands now: incomplete owing to the failure of the witnesses to co-operate - and therefore shelved.
“BILTON: Have you been asked to return to be questioned?
BILTON: Would you be prepared to?
JANE: Yes. Yeah of course we would. Yeah, and I mean if it helps to find Madeleine, be interviewed tomorrow, you know, we're obviously key witnesses”
At any point the McCanns can get the search for their child re-opened without asking anyone else to assist except their seven friends.
“Friends of the couple have now indicated that they would refuse to return voluntarily unless they were formally cleared of any wrongdoing.”
They can do it tomorrow. Why won’t they? Why?