The detectives working as the world watches

The detectives working as the world watches
Daily Telegraph
26 May 2007
Fiona Govan

The Portuguese police have been widely criticised for their handling of the investigation into the abduction.

But although officers insist they are doing everything possible, the leading figures in the inquiry remain steadfastly behind the scenes.

At the forefront of one of the most intensively scrutinised investigations in recent history is Guilhermino Encarnação, 59, the director of the Judicial Police for the Algarve.

Described as a "desk strategist" in the Portuguese media, a police spokesman admitted early in the case that Mr Encarnação's experience of abduction cases was limited, saying: "He has a background in detective work but this case is unique, so he has only a bit of experience in this area."

He is said to be working closely with Goncalo Amaral, the head of the regional Judicial Police in Portimão. Both officers were involved in a controversy over a previous inquiry into a missing child.

Joana Cipriano disappeared in the village of Figueira on September 12, 2004, only seven miles from Praia da Luz.

In echoes of the McCann case, the hunt for Joana got off to a false start when the Republican National Guard, another police body, failed to seal off the house where she was last seen. It was only five days later - after hundreds of police and friends of the family had trampled over the scene and after relatives had cleaned the house with bleach - that the Judicial Police took over.

Joana's body was never found, but the case was solved. Leonor and Joao Cipriano, her mother and uncle, were convicted of killing her and sentenced to 16 years in jail, but they never confessed.

A third detective forms the trio leading the search for Madeleine and he has impressed the McCanns.

Luis Neves, 41, the national director of the DCCB, the Portuguese equivalent of the Serious Organised Crime Agency, was sent from Lisbon and met the McCanns on Thursday.

A source close to the family said:
"He is young and the McCanns were impressed not only with his grasp of the investigation but his efforts to inform them of its progress."

The public face of the investigation has been Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa. Adept at press conferences in which he often fails to answer questions with clarity, he admits that his experience lies in investigating "crimes against the freedom of press".

Rarely observed at the scene of Madeleine's abduction or available for comment, those leading the investigation have frequently been spotted lunching at the Carvi seafood restaurant in Portimão.

Govan, Fiona. The detectives working as the world watches. Daily Telegraph. 2010-12-08. URL: Accessed: 2010-12-08. (Archived by WebCite® at
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Bungling Cops May Have Cost Maddy Her Life

Bungling Cops May Have Cost Maddy Her Life
Jerry Lawton
24 May 2007
Daily Star

They didn't seal off scene - Failed to do forensic tests - Nearby homes not searched - Left witness appeal too late

A TOP British detective has said "inexcusable" police blunders could have cost Madeleine McCann her life.

Portuguese officers made "fundamental errors" in the hunt for the missing girl, child protection expert Mark Williams-Thomas claimed yesterday.

And he accused the police of using Portugal's secrecy laws to hide their mistakes.

UK detectives had been left "extremely frustrated", said Mr Williams-Thomas, who worked on the Sarah Payne murder probe and other paedophile inquiries.

The ex-Surrey detective called for British officers to take over the inquiry. "Portuguese police failed to do the basics, " he said.

And he warned: "Tragically, statistics tell us it may already be too late for Madeleine."

As he spoke Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry, both 38, joined 1,000 pilgrims at Portugal's holiest shrine in Fatima to pray for the safe return of their daughter.

Clutching flowers, gifts and a set of Rosary beads the Catholic couple lit candles at the shrine.

Mr Williams-Thomas listed a series of police cock-ups which began, he said, the moment Madeleine vanished from her family's holiday flat in the resort of Praia da Luz on May 3.

He said officers failed to seal off the crime scene, allowing residents, journalists and tourists to cross the cordon at will - destroying potentially vital evidence.

House-to-house inquiries should have been made quickly when witnesses were likely to still be in the holiday village.

And police also failed to carry out fingertip searches of nearby streets, meaning vital forensic evidence could have been lost.

And they did not search every home even though Madeleine was likely to have been kept nearby by her abductor.

Mr Williams-Thomas also accused police of waiting too long to appeal for the public's help.

"The Portuguese police need to call for expert help, " he said.

"But they must act fast if they are not to lose more vital clues."

Yesterday, detectives were reinterviewing Michaela Wulczuch, 39, the German lover of British estate agent Robert Murat, 33, who has been named as a suspect.

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