Madeleine – paedophilia – CEOP

Please note this article is about the analytical capability of CEOP at the time Madeleine disappeared. There are quite separate posts on this blog about the technical glitch on the Wayback Machine that wrongly makes it look like CEOP knew of Madeleine’s disappearance some days prior to 3 May 2007.

CEOP was the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre. It was formed in April 2006, so it had only been running for about a year when Madeleine disappeared. However, there was a predecessor called the Paedophile Online Investigation Team, making an accurate evaluation of CEOP’s capability more difficult.

CEOP was a member of the Virtual Global Taskforce, also established in 2004. Members included the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Italy, Holland, Colombia and the Philippines. Portugal was not a member directly, though Interpol and Europol were. This has already been touched on in Operation Predator (the US version), aimed at the deportation of people living in the US indulging in paedophilia and US citizens travelling abroad considered to be high risk re child sex tourism.

Operation Avalanche was a major US programme which followed on from the arrest in 1999 of Thomas and Janice Reedy for facilitating access to child porn sites. Essentially, they has a multi-million dollar business which took payments by credit card then permitted access to porn sites based overseas, splitting the sign-up fee with the distributor site. The Reedy couple thought they were immune from prosecution in the US as the distribution sites were not on US territory. In 2000, Thomas Reedy was found guilty, and after an appeal over a very long sentence, it was reduced to 180 years (one hundred and eighty).

Following the arrest of the Reedy couple, the US authorities were sitting with a massive database of users from around the world who had, allegedly, been using their credit cards to access child porn. There were several flies in the ointment. Thomas Reedy had detected major credit card fraud, and had written a system designed to block it. This was not effective, and eventually his ability to act as a gateway was revoked, due to the cost of processing dud transactions.

The Reedy database was split up by country. The US authorities launched Operation Avalanche to deal with the US side, some 35,000 users, leading eventually to 100 arrests.

The UK was sent details for 7,272 names. In the UK this programme was called Operation Ore, and it came in for some heavy criticism. 3,744 people were investigated and 1,451 were convicted.

The UK had a rather odd law, that a person could be convicted of paedophilia if a person’s card details appeared in a database containing other people who had accessed child sex material, whether such card use was fraudulent or not, and whether the card itself was used to access child sex as opposed to any other legal material. If no child porn was found in a home search, the user could be charged with incitement i.e. inciting the Reedy couple to continue providing a gateway to child porn.

A further requirement of UK standard operating procedure was that police forces were required to act quickly, to separate vulnerable children from potential paedophiles, thereby not permitting time to evaluate the database properly.

CEOP and its Chief Executive, Jim Gamble, were accused of using vague terms which do not have a recognised meaning within either child protection or law enforcement when they defended the operation. Guardian, 17 May 2007, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2007/may/17/guardianweeklytechnologysection2

If that is the background, what was CEOP getting up to in 2006, when it was formed, and in 2007, when Madeleine disappeared? Here the Wayback Machine proves to be helpful as it is possible to retrieve CEOP press releases from that period. The URL needed is the old CEOP one , http://www.ceop.gov.uk, and the press releases are at http://www.ceop.gov.uk/press_releases.html

24 Apr 2006 New CEOP Centre will be the most significant development in child protection to date

22 Jun 2006 Website snares its first online grooming offender. Lee Costi became the first person convicted in the UK after there was an accusation raised via CEOP/VGT

03 Jul 2006 Social Networking Sites Under The Spotlight. The growing use of social networks re paedophilia.

25 Jul 2016 Thousands of child sex abuse images taken offline as eastern European crime gang arrested in dawn raids. Dawn raids in five UK police regions have this morning seen the arrest of 13 men and women all suspected of being connected with pay-per-view websites offering images of child sex abuse. (Judging by full release, this was a gang of eastern Europeans operating in the UK rather than a joint international effort.)

17 Nov 2006 CEOP launches first national website to track child sex offenders. This was based on the success of Crimestoppers Most Wanted. The CEOP version would feature details of child sex offenders in breach of their notification requirements. None of these offenders was linked to the Algarve.

29 Dec 2006 Child sex offender details posted on Most Wanted website. CEOP Centre posts its sixth most wanted convicted offender after 4 of the first 5 offenders are located.

03 May 2007 Keep up to date with the nation’s ‘Most Wanted’. The public can now keep track of convicted child sex offenders who go missing thanks to a new facility launched by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre and independent charity Crimestoppers.

09 May 2007 Disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Web Appeal for Information. Portuguese Police have extended a web based plea for information following the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

The latest appeal has been issued by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre and the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) at the request of the Portuguese authorities.

The appeal is sited at http://www.ceop.gov.uk and http://www.virtualglobaltaskforce.com. It appears in English, Portuguese and Spanish and urges people to come forward with any information that could help police find the missing youngster.

Both sites receive extensive daily hits from browsers in more than 130 different countries. It is hoped the move will help extend the reach of the appeal to as many people as possible, including holiday goers who may have recently returned from Portugal, or be intending to visit.

Any information should be passed to directly to the Portuguese police on 00 351 282 405 400.

Two forensic behavioural analysts from the CEOP Centre have been assisting with this inquiry. They have been made available to the authorities to ensure they have the full range of expertise available for every possible avenue of investigation.”

(This is the one and only press release I can find on CEOP about Madeleine McCann.)

18 Jun 2007 Global Online Child Abuse Network Smashed – CEOP lead international operation into UK based paedophile ring

An online trading ground for indecent images of children and live exchanges of abuse has collapsed following an international operation led by the CEOP Centre.

The last 10 months of this complex investigation has resulted in the co-ordination of law enforcement agencies from 35 different countries and their subsequent, ongoing investigations – intelligence from which indicates that there were more than 700 suspects worldwide. The UK branch of the investigation centres around 200 suspects, the majority of which are currently subject to active police enquiries at this time. Further information can not be released until these enquiries have concluded.

To date, the international operation has led to 31 children being rescued from abuse or positions of harm.

Kids the Light of Our Lives’ was an Internet chat room dedicated to the sexual exploitation of children. Hundreds of members worldwide used it to trade a range of material, including photographs and videos of children being subjected to sexual abuse and serious sexual assault.

The man behind the network has been convicted at Ipswich Crown Court and now awaits sentence.

27 year old Timothy David Martyn Cox hosted the website from his home address in Buxhall, masquerading behind the online identity ‘Son_of_god.’ When trading, he used the name ‘I_do_it’.

Cox was identified after intelligence linking the chat room to the UK was passed to the CEOP Centre by Canadian partners within the Virtual Global Taskforce last August.

On receiving this information, specialist officers immediately began enquiries to trace the host, using a range of techniques and undercover online activity. Cox was located and subsequently arrested by officers from Suffolk Constabulary on September 28 2006. This allowed uncover officers from the CEOP Centre to infiltrate the room and gather valuable evidence.

Over a period of ten days, officers from the CEOP Centre and Toronto Police conducted online surveillance. They were able to identify further suspects and secure vital information regarding potential victims, before closing down the site.

When Suffolk forensic teams examined Cox’s computer they found 75,960 indecent and explicit images in addition to evidence that he had supplied 11,491 images to other site users.

Cox was subsequently charged with 9 offences, relating to the Possession and Distribution of Indecent Images of Children.

In September last year, Gordon Mackintosh from Hertfordshire also became a key subject in the UK inquiry. The 33 year old attempted to resurrect ‘Kids the Light of our Lives’ following the Cox’s disappearance as host. Officers from the CEOP Centre carried out extensive work to identify and locate the individual behind the usernames ‘silentblackheart and ‘lust4skoolgurls’. Alongside Hertfordshire Police, they arrested Mackintosh on January 9th 2007.

CEOP officers, alongside VGT partners from the Australian Federal Police, ICE (US Department of Homeland Security) and Toronto Police undertook 24 hour online surveillance to infiltrate the room for a second time and collate details of all the offenders attempting to trade material.

McIntosh’s computer was found to contain 5,167 indecent and explicit images of children, in addition to 392 indecent movie files. He pleaded guilty to 27 charges of making, possessing and distributing indecent images and movies. He awaits sentence.”

30 Oct 2007 British man arrested in Thailand on child sexual abuse offences

A 39 year old British man has been arrested in Thailand today following a joint operation by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre and the Royal Thai Police (RTP).

The man was arrested for offences including transmission of obscene material and malicious internet use.

The arrest forms part of an ongoing investigation initiated when in 2003 the man breached his notification requirements under the sex offenders register. Intelligence reports received in August 2007 indicated that the man had fled to Thailand and may be a risk to children.

CEOP’s Overseas Tracker Team picked up the case and a joint operation was launched alongside the Royal Thai Police – one of a number of collaborative programmes currently running in partnership with the RTP to deter and prevent British nationals travelling to South East Asia to abuse children.”

05 Nov 2007 46 Arrests in UK as international child sex offender network smashed

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre has coordinated the UK response in smashing a global child sex offender network.

So far, 46 suspects have been arrested in the UK in operations involving 22 police forces around the country with more arrests expected in the near future.

Operation Koala was initiated in 2006 and involved the sexual abuse of children from a modelling website based in Italy. ‘Customers’ from all over the world were able to order tailor-made videos depicting the abuse.

The investigation began when a child abuse video – made in Belgium – was discovered in Australia. A Belgian perpetrator and two victims were identified. Consequently, the sole producer of the material, a 42 year old Italian national, was arrested. He was running a website on which he sold over 150 self-made, sexually explicit videos of young girls. The business had been running for eighteen months and generated considerable profits from around 2,500 customers worldwide.

The abusive material was mainly produced in the man’s private studio. Some material was filmed in Belgium and the Netherlands. One of the video’s sold by the Italian suspect shows a father sexually abusing his daughters of 9 and 11 years of age. ‘Customers’ of this website were able to order tailor made videos and some even travelled to the studio in order to watch and record the abuse, making their own private videos.

Shortly after the Italian child sex offender was arrested in Bologna, the Italian authorities forwarded all digitalised material, including ‘customer’ details to Europol and Eurojust. From here, the material was disseminated to the countries in which customers were identified.

In June 2007, the material was passed to CEOP which holds UK responsibility for receiving intelligence and information from overseas on child sexual abuse crimes.

CEOP’s Intelligence Faculty analysed and developed the material and passed details of individual suspects to their local police forces who in turn initiated their own investigations. Operational activity in relation to these investigations is ongoing and likely to continue for some time.”

05 Mar 2008 Eight UK children identified in images seized from international paedophile ring

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre has identified and safeguarded eight British children from sexual abuse as a result of thousands of indecent images seized in an international police operation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States.

This two-year joint investigation between the FBI and the Queensland Police in Australia focused in on a highly-sophisticated newsgroup hosted on the internet where individuals from around the world traded child sexual abuse images.

As a result of this operation, 400,000 images were seized and where possible identified to a particular country. They were then passed to the appropriate police agencies around the world to investigate further.

In the UK, this work is undertaken by the CEOP Centre and specifically by a specialist team of investigators who use facial recognition software and thorough detective work, examining the images and painstakingly looking for clues to locate the victim or the offender.

The Victim Identification Team at CEOP is headed up by Paul Griffiths:

“Whilst it can be difficult at times, this work is vital to identifying and locating children who are being subjected to horrendous abuse. In this case, eight children aged between six and 14 have since been protected from further abusive situations and six men are currently serving jail terms for their role in sexually abusing these children”.

In every image there is a child. These images are crime scene photos where children are being subjected to sexual abuse. This is not ‘child pornography’.

It’s important to remember too, though that these children were not missing. They were located in the place where they were supposed to be safe – their own home – where their abuse was recorded and made available over the internet to satisfy sickening sexual desires of a deviant group of individuals.”

So far, two British men and 20 other individuals from the USA, Canada, Australia and Germany have been arrested in connection to their role in this newsgroup paedophile network.”

21 Apr 2008 Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre publishes 2nd year results and lays out the challenge ahead

131 Children safeguarded from sexual abuse

297 Suspected child sex offenders arrested – a three fold increase

6 Organised paedophile rings dismantled

1.7 Million UK children receiving “safety first” education

2nd year results from the CEOP Centre – the UK’s dedicated organisation for tackling the sexual abuse of children – show the battle against child sex offenders continues to gather pace.

The CEOP Centre was set up in 2006 to deliver a national policing focus that would track some of the UK’s highest risk sex offenders, provide services across the wider child protection community and deliver a holistic and inclusive response that would get to the heart of the crime.

That focus has led to the safeguarding of 131 children and the arrest of 297 suspected offenders during the last twelve months, with the arrest figures alone being a three-fold increase on the organisation’s first year results.

During the last year the organisation has processed almost 1 million images of child sex abuse – using each unique image to help either build up intelligence, track and bring offenders to account, or as vital parts of an investigative jigsaw leading to 18 young victims being identified from this area of work alone.

And offenders have been targeted not only individually, but also where they have formed intricate paedophile networks with 6 such groups infiltrated and dismantled throughout the year – all with international footprints.

Reports from both the child protection community within the widest sense and members of the public – through the CEOP Centre’s unique report abuse virtual environment – continue on an upward trend with a total of 5,812 reports received and activated during the past year – a 76% increase on the monthly average from 2006/07.”

08 Aug 2008. UK police uncover global online paedophile network

Police today revealed that an international paedophile network has been infiltrated by law enforcement officers and dozens of suspects arrested.

The operation was run jointly by the CEOP Centre, Cleveland Police and the Metropolitan Police Service.

The investigation involved the largest ever coordinated deployment of undercover officers in the UK within a child protection investigation.

The announcement came as a 27 year old Teesside man was sentenced to an indeterminate public protection sentence for his part in the network, which has so far identified over 360 suspects worldwide. More than 130 of these suspects are in the UK, resulting in over 50 arrests to date.

15 children have been safeguarded in the UK as a result of this ongoing investigation.

Philip Anthony Thompson, unemployed and from the Stockton-on-Tees area of Cleveland, was charged with 27 counts in total including causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, taking indecent photographs of a child and making and distributing child abuse images. Approximately a quarter of a million child abuse images, still and moving and ranging from levels 1-5, were discovered in Thompson’s possession.

The investigation began in May 2007 when the Metropolitan Police Paedophile Unit initiated an undercover operation into an internet forum. Users of the forum would post disturbing, ‘borderline-legal’ images of children and pass comments on the images. This tactic, of posting indicative images instead of more explicit child sex abuse images, was an attempt to keep the site ‘below the radar’ of law enforcement and prevent it being shut down. Having made contact through the forum, its users would meet other like-minded individuals and exchange images in different online environments.

Thompson was identified as a senior administrator within the site and found to be living in Teesside.

CEOP, which holds national responsibility for coordinating the deployment of covert investigators on the internet in child sexual abuse investigations, undertook responsibility for developing the operation on a national and international level.

Cleveland Police joined forces with CEOP and affected Thompson’s arrest and, once a copy of the server had been seized, officers were able to identify those accessing the site and undertake risk assessments, supported by the deployment of undercover internet investigators.

The Australian Federal Police, the Department for Homeland Security in the US and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police took the lead within their jurisdictions as partners in the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies working together to prevent and deter online child abuse. Suspect details were circulated internationally via Interpol, also a VGT partner.“

To save you reading through all this sewage again, here is a summary of what I think are the points of interest.

  • There is no message relating to Madeleine McCann other than the press release of 9 May 2007, which is to the effect that Madeleine is missing.
  • There is scant evidence that CEOP had any advanced facility for the detection of paedophile rings. All of the leads seem to have arisen from a victim coming forth, or originated from abroad.
  • There is only one reference to the ability to scan photographs and check them against a database. It is not clear whether this is a database of offenders or of victims. In the McCann case, a CEOP request for holiday photographs suggests the centre was trying to match against known paedophiles.
  • There is zero evidence in the CEOP files that the Algarve was a haven for British (and other) paedophiles. This does not prove that the Algarve was not a haven for British paedophiles. It simply means that CEOP was unaware of such. The track record of CEOP in this respect does not fill me with hope. CEOP was publishing details of a small number of UK paedophiles who were breaching supervision orders. I would be astonished if the number of UK paedophiles breaching supervision orders is anything like as small as the numbers posted.

Luz – upturn in Sep 2016

September 2016 has not been a great month here in Luz for us. The weather has been delightful. But the heart of my heart has been ill, with a combination of chronic back pain and a strong desire to be sick. A combination which must be as awful as it gets.

We got a little bit better today. The back pain has eased off a bit, and there was a request for chicken soup, which of course I “cooked”. Pasta with some vaguely tastes-of-chicken flavouring from Knorr. The good thing is it appears the pasta went down and stayed down.

Tomorrow is the visit to the bank day re the mortgage on the house. This should actually be very interesting. It seems the Cãmara found numpty things illegal, so lots of stuff has been ripped out. This includes a small, round, above-ground ‘swimming’ pool. We fully intended to get rid of it. As to why it is illegal????

And it seems some paving stones have been ripped up?

Plus. It seems the Cãmara got the bank to undertake some work inside. The bank manager is currently tight-lipped about this. Perhaps there will be more to reveal tomorrow.

Luz – Life At 20!

Today is a rather special day here in Luz, but I didn’t twig it first off, so let me start my story a different way.

It was a fine Autumn day in the Algarve. The sky was cloudless. There was a mild breeze. The temperature was 28°C in the shade, at 4pm. Basically, it was the equivalent of a fine Summer day in England.

Years ago, I and my better half would visit Portugal and Spain for precisely this type of weather. We would hire a villa with a pool in early May or late September, typically for 3 weeks. The early date was to celebrate a birthday and the late date was to celebrate our anniversary. We would sunbathe during the day, though I tend to crisp, meaning I had to seek some dapple for protection. The number of books we got through and the number of games of backgammon, boules and Scrabble we played were considerable.

And the pool. The villa owners were always perplexed when we asked if it would be warm enough to swim. In early May and late September, those accustomed to the weather here avoid unheated pools. Those are to be used at the height of a blistering summer.

Then around 6pm in the afternoon it would time to go indoors, have a shower, get changed and think about which restaurant we should dine at in the evening, al fresco of course.

Today is a rather special day as it happens to be our 20th wedding anniversary. The traditional present, it seems, is china.

Are we celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary in this fine September weather as per our Portuguese traditions? A swim, some sunbathing, perhaps a book to read on our Kindle, and we have the full kit for backgammon, boules and Scrabble, plus we have built up a fair choice of decent restaurants, mostly not in Luz as it happens.

No, none of the above.

To understand this, I need to go back 6 years or more. My spouse had been having serious back pain for years, diagnosed as crumbling vertebrae. Treatment options include injections of strong pain-killers, and we went down this route for years. Our medical insurance company, BUPA, was getting shirty about paying for these continually, so we were ducking in and out of the NHS and BUPA. Things finally progressed to the stage where this was not a viable option.

In one of the bleakest, snow bound winters, it was time to go for the alternative, a major operation. This puts metal supports around the crumbling vertebrae, and requires going in through the back to access the spine, but also going in from the front to access the frontal section of the spine. On top of this a bone graft is taken from the leg and connected to the vertebrae, to get regrowth of bone on the crumbled parts. So, all in all, it is a daunting prospect at any time, let alone at our age.

The story does not stop there. My spouse contracted MRSA during the operation, and quickly became seriously ill. Fortunately BUPA staffed this unit with doctors 24×7, and in the middle of the night, the doctor on duty decided that waiting for lab confirmation was not the way to go, and started administering doses of wide-range antibiotics. This action almost certainly made the difference between dying and living.

Shortly thereafter, there was a bit of relief. The particular strain of MRSA that had been contracted was one that still succumbed to a specific antibiotic, and that was duly administered, proving to be effective.

Still within the bleak mid-winter, the family helped get the patient from the BUPA hospital to home, up our stairs to the guest bedroom, which then became a court for several weeks with visiting guests, while I acted as the (only) servant.

It was during this period that a son and daughter-in-law turned up to introduce us to the latest grandson, Riley. He had been born while the jury was out over whether he would ever see us as a married couple, as opposed to me on my own. So he was doubly fussed over.

Moving forward 6 years and shifting from the UK to Luz, what are we doing for our 20th anniversary?

It is a little like groundhog day. My beloved is upstairs, virtually bedridden, and I am the (only) servant. Hence the absence of swimming, backgammon, boules, Scrabble and a meal at a restaurant.

This episode started on Sunday with a visit to our daughter and son-in-law. Their latest addition, Jake, lights up upon such visits and there was a lot of bending and lifting. Whether that was the cause or not, from the next day on it was confinement to bed (boring even with wi-fi) and, of course, with me being the duty service officer.

The major problem we hit was that standard painkillers, such as paracetamol, were not touching the pain. That meant we needed something a bit stronger. Not heavy duty like morphine, but something like codeine. And here’s where we hit a recent change in Portuguese law. The chemists in Luz claim that they are not able to sell codeine without a prescription.

In the light of a recent extended discussion on Calpol, Calpol24, Calpol50 and Calpol Night on the UK Justice Forum, let me make clear that I have not checked the actual law relating to codeine. I am merely stating that the Luz chemists tell us they will not sell us codeine without a prescription.

This leads to an obvious issue. To get a prescription, one needs to be fit enough to get to a doctor in the first place, and in our instance, being bedridden ruled this out.

Fortunately, there is a local doctor in Luz we have used, called Doctor Otto. Yes, he is German, and yes he does have an interesting story, but let me stick to this adventure. He is aware of the reconstructed back operation and the issues with nerves it can cause going forward. So he was willing to write a prescription for a stronger pain-killer without physically seeing the patient.

Indeed, it was Dr Otto who enquired if morphine was the pain-killer of choice. For readers who might think this is strange, I have experienced morphine myself. About 20 years ago, there was an accident and both the bones in my lower right leg were broken. As it happened I was put into an NHS mixed ward, which frankly I found embarrassing.

In the ward, the morphine was by tablets administered every 4 hours, if I remember correctly Once taken, they quickly sent me to sleep, whether I had a visitor or not. Towards the end of the cycle, I was in major pain, anxiously awaiting the next dose. In the ward there was a man who had been in a motorcycle accident and basically had broken everything it was possible to break and to survive. He was screaming in agony long before the morphine arrived. I don’t know why they didn’t place the wretch in a side ward, but it meant nobody in the mixed ward could possibly sleep through the night.

When I got out, I was still on prescription morphine tablets, with a prescription from my own GP. I never had enough interest to enquire about the dose in hospital or the dose when I was dispatched home. I presume those for use a home were lower strength, but I can’t be certain. After one prescription, I could do without the morphine.

Anyway a family member will pick up Dr Otto’s prescription this evening and head to the chemist in Luz. Whether this produces the codeine this evening or not is still in question. The chemists in Luz often say they don’t have prescription drugs in stock, and you need to go back the next day after the medicine has been delivered to the shop to pick it up.

The moral of this tale is simple. If you have a condition that might require a pain-killer slightly stronger than paracetamol (or aspirin etc.), bring some with you if you are visiting. I intend to get some laid in as stock, as we hit this same back problem roughly once a year on average.

Is there any ray of light in this 20th anniversary wreckage? There is the tiniest of tiny glimmers.

My partner has been going to a dietician once a week for the last 6 or 8 weeks, in a determined effort to get rid of some weight, and so far has made quite good progress, shedding around a kilo per week, noticing clothes are getting baggy and drawing some compliments from friends.

One of the key suggestions made by the dietician was to remove or greatly restrict dairy products and gluten based products (wheat bread and pasta etc.). Apart from dropping weight, this has resulted in a feeling of being more healthy.

The difficulty with this is all the things that get wiped out. Black tea with milk has been replaced with green tea, and gone are cafè latte and Portuguese galão (espresso topped up with ¾ foamed milk). Since things that are calorie-rich but nutrient free, or processed are also on the naughty list., most fizzy soft drinks are out.

This cuts the good-to-go drinks to basically water, green tea and fruit juice. Whilst acting as the servant for the last 3 days, it became clear how monotonous this must be so I asked if an instant soup would be preferred. Yes, I know it almost certainly falls foul of the ban re processed foods, but confined to bed for 3 days is bad enough without putting the patient on a highly restricted diet.

So the reply was which kind of instant soup did we have, to which I responded it was the one we bought from the Dutch deli in Lagos. The offer was taken up, and the soup was found to be tasty and a welcome alternative to the usual suspects.

The drink is by Knorr, and is called Drinkbouillon Tuinkruiden. I know basically no Dutch, but every foodstuff imported into Portugal to be sold on has to have a label in Portuguese. That label describes it as a broth, soup or bouillon of spices. It looks like a clear broth with herbs in it, and there really doesn’t seem to bad ingredients in it in any quantity. I can’t check properly at the moment because night time has arrived, the writing is 4-pt, and my eyes no longer do 4-pt except under bright light.

Oh, and it is 4 kcal per portion, which makes it a gem if one is trying to lose weight.

I have never seen it on my forays into Portuguese supermarkets, and as I said, we bought it from the Dutch deli in Lagos. I presume it is a Dutch favourite and I have no idea where you would get it in the UK, outside of possibly a Dutch deli.

So a tiny, tiny sliver of sunshine in what is probably the anniversary we would most like to forget.

Oh, and out son-in-law turned up with the prescription pain-killers and a muscle relaxant medication at about 6.30pm, so hopefully things are on the up.

Madeleine – paedophilia in Portugal – Predator and Angel Watch

If you dig through Operation Predator, you should come up with two quite different stories, and the little information I can glean is that the two initiatives are not directly linked.

In the US, Operation Predator was started in July 2003 by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to protect children from sexual predators.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Predator The Wikipedia article does not make it clear that a sexual predator is considered to be someone having certain categories of sex with a person under 18 years of age, whether that person is considered to be at or above the age of consent in the country where the ‘offence’ took place.

The major thrust of Operation Predator appears to be to detect foreign national sex offenders, with the aim of deporting them from the US.

Another strand was the PROTECT Act of 2003, designed to halt US citizens from indulging in child sex tourism to Thailand, Cambodia, Mexico and Costa Rica. US citizens were deemed to make up 25% of such sex offenders, the largest contributors.

Operation Predator in conjunction with other US organisations built up a large database of child pornography images, and appears to have an advanced capability for searching through these. Operation Predator was communicating with Interpol and appears to be linked through global systems to CEOP. Whether Madeleine McCann was ever run through the Predator database is unclear.

Operation Angel Watch is another U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement initiative. This tracks people is the sex offender registry who are considered likely to indulge in child sex tourism, and notifies destination countries when those people travel abroad. In 2007, Angel Watch sent 1,700 leads to 100 countries.

The disappearance of Madeleine McCann does not appear to fit child sex tourism for all sorts of reasons, but it would be interesting to see how many alerts were sent to Portugal around April/May 2007.

Turning to Portugal, Operation Predator was an effort that resulted in raids in early October 2007. The news appears in media reports dating from around 11 Oct 2007, but I have not found a definitive date for the raids. The operation was reported to be 6 months in the planning.

All of the media reports naming the leader of this effort say it was Paulo Rebelo. However a couple of forum reports say that Rebelo was unconnected to this, with one saying he was working on robberies. Since 2 Aug 2007 was the date at which Amaral was removed from the Madeleine McCann investigation, it seems odd that Rebelo would leave Operation Predator just as the raids were about to come to pass.

Anyway, the Portuguese Operation Predator resulted in 80 arrests with 150 devices seized (PCs and mobile phones etc.) with 75 properties searched. The main effort was in Lisbon with the Azores and Madeira being prominent. This makes it look like it might have been based on the SIS year 2000 report which named these areas, plus Porto, as the main problem zones. There is no specific mention of the Algarve, although the raids were described as being across Portugal.

The Operation Predator team were told to look for Madeleine in the materials recovered. There is no specific detail of how they did this, nor of the capability of the PJ in checking. There is no mention of this material being sent to the US Operation Predator to conduct matching using their sophisticated capabilities, nor of any contact with CEOP. I will be writing an article in the near future on CEOP to examine what they could and could not do at that time.

Madeleine would have stuck out like a sore thumb from any Portuguese children in the cache of records captured in the raid, but I have no idea whether the were other pale skin white girls aged around 4 in the photos and videos.

This check did not provide certainty, but on the balance of probability, Madeleine was not swept up in Operation Predator.

In early October 2007, Paulo Rebelo took over the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. He took a team of six PJ officers with him, all from Lisbon PJ. It seems likely that he did not wish his investigation clouded by officers who had been working the case before. Two of the officers Rebelo took with him were experienced in investigating paedophilia. Rebelo then did what Operation Grange has claimed to do. He started from afresh, re-examining from the beginning.

I have not found any follow-up media reports on Operation Predator, therefore I cannot say what happened to the 80 people arrested.

Madeleine – paedophilia in Portugal – Casa Pia

The second item of interest raised in the 2006 article from Correio da Manhã re paedophilia in Portugal was the Casa Pia case.

Casa Pia (pious house) is an institution that for over 200 years has looked after orphans and children of the poor, providing them with education from primary school level up to university entrance level. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casa_Pia

The Wikipedia article on the Casa Pia scandal is at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casa_Pia_child_sexual_abuse_scandal I am not a fan of this article. It does not cover what went on before the scandal broke, nor what happened after sentences were handed down. The latter, though interesting, appears to have very limited relevance to the Madeleine McCann case, so I will omit that part.

A brief summary of the developments in the Casa Pia scandal is that a mother of one of the children came forward in Sep 2002 with allegations of paedophilia at Casa Pia. On 23 Nov 2002, weekly newspaper Expresso published an interview with the mother. Two days later on 25 Nov 2002, a driver for Casa Pia, one Carlos Silvino, was arrested by the PJ. (A warrant for his arrest had been issued on 7 Nov 2002.) Other prominent public figures were arrested, including a popular TV personality and a high ranking ex-diplomat. The trial would run from 2004 to 2010.

Paulo Rebelo, he who would take over from Gonçalo Amaral in the Madeleine McCann case, was one of the senior investigators in the Casa Pia scandal, and there is more to come on that angle.

When the case broke, a number of investigative journalists ran pieces on the bits that interest me.

The BBC has this profile of 5 of those involved, at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-11180416 If you check the entry for Carlos Silvino, you find some mind-boggling stuff. The New York Times alleges a rape of a young girl before Silvino started in Casa Pia. The BBC says Silvino started work at Casa Pia in 1974 and within weeks there were accusations that he had raped boys on campus. From the BBC article “In 1989 he was reportedly expelled from the school, but after a two-year legal battle that went to Portugal’s Supreme Court, he was reinstated.”

That latter statement ticks one of my boxes. If a case went to the Supreme Court, it would have been reported at the time, thus advertising an alleged paedophile, and the goods on offer, the children at Casa Pia. What it doesn’t explain is how Casa Pia could be ordered to re-instate Silvino, and thus lead to the Casa Pia scandal.

The real question with Carlos Silvino is where to start. He was orphaned at age two, first went into a different orphanage, got transferred to Casa Pia, and became a Casapiana. The institution was his home and his family.

http://www.publico.pt/destaque/jornal/supremo-tribunal-administrativo-entendeu-que-nao-houve-aliciamento-dos-menores-molestados-176935 This very long article provides a huge amount of background on Calos Silvino.

When he was fired from his position in 1989, Silvino did not accept the decision, and appealed to the Supreme Court. He had been fired on a number of charges, raised after a mother of a child at Casa Pia accused Silvino of being homosexual and of grooming her child. The most serious allegation is that Silvino had shared a shower with one of the boys, fondled him, soaped him, watched pornography with him, had a session of mutual masturbation, and at least one attempt of penetrative sex. The Supreme Court did not reject this, but it rejected the manner in which Silvino had been fired, finding it had not followed procedure, and thus Casa Pia was forced to re-instate Carlos in 1991. 193 colleagues had signed a petition attesting that Silvino was a good character. And Casa Pia was forced to pay the salary from when he was fired to when he went back.

This is not the beginning of the story. Carlos is alleged to have raped a boy in front of colleagues when he was but 19. He went on to become a prefect, an overseer in Casa Pia, which gave him access to the dormitories and bathhouses. His preferred age range was children aged 9 to 11 years. A written complaint in 1978 to one of the Casa Pia directors was followed up by a written complaint to the Minister of Social Affairs in February 1980.

Another Minister, Teresa Costa Macedo, received complaints in the 1980s about Casa Pia suggesting things went beyond the core of paedophiles eventually scooped up. Adelino Granja, a lawyer, complained to President Ramalho Eanes in Macedo’s presence. This led to police case 10344/81. Carlos Silvino was interrogated by the PJ and the case was referred to court in 1982. It came to northing.

Around the same time in 1982, 4 Casa Pia children were found in the house of a diplomat, in Cascais and a complaint was raised. The case went to the Tribunal of Cascais but in 1987 it was shelved on the basis there was insufficient evidence to prosecute, and the file was destroyed in 1992.

Is this all there is on Carlos Silvino? Quite the opposite. In his neighbourhood in Lisbon he was known as a helpful, courteous individual. However, at night, he was described by those aware of the scandal as a vampire, a sexual predator. He was on the end of disciplinary action in Casa Pia at least 6 times, two for paedophilia and others for abuse, bad behaviour and feuds. In 1988 he was suspended for a month with respect to one such instance. Carlos Silvino appeared to have a dual personality.

When the Casa Pia scandal broke in 2002, too many people came forward with complaints for the case to disappear once more, and Portugal’s first instance of paedophilia in an institution gripped the nation. The court case started in 2004 and would be half way through when Madeleine McCann disappeared in May 2007.

Luz – 29th August

There is a local tradition, here in Luz, in Lagos, and for all I know, across the Algarve. This party occurs on 29th August each year.

The ex-pats call it ‘The End Of Summer’. Portuguese locals are shocked by this. They insist that summer does not end until the end of September.

The tradition of the festa is that people from inland towns and villages come to the sea-side, and have a dip in the sea, followed by fireworks. It is a sort of celebratory cleansing.

I was thinking of going down to get some photographs to share, but the event in Luz was scheduled to start at 9pm. That’s nearly an hour after sunset, and my camera does not do good quality shots at night.

The other thing is that the fireworks were scheduled for midnight. I’m on my own at the moment, and I did not fancy spending 3 hours in Luz at that time of night. So I decided to stay in.

I happen to live on an urbanisation that is constructed very strangely in one certain respect. There is a single entry/exit point, which is not unusual. The urbanisation then fans out as it goes inland, and again, this is not unusual. What is odd is that there is one set of rubbish bins, and these are not at the entry/exit point, the logical place to site them. Instead, they are at one of the inland ends of the urbanisation, basically out of the way of 99% of the houses on the estate.

Despite this, lots of people still put their rubbish in the boot of their car, and drive out of their way to get to these remote bins.

The general refuse bin, the one used for leftovers and rotten meat, filled up totally about a fortnight ago. Still the car drivers came, and deposited black after black bag on the pavement. The pile was so big, you could not reach the actual bin itself. As to why the car drivers did not simply take the rubbish to another bin with spare capacity, your guess is as good as mine.

Returning to August 29th, there were lots of loud bangs at 10.40pm, so I thought the fireworks must have started, and I went out onto our upstairs balcony to see what I could see.

And to my amazement, the bangs had nothing to do with celebrating 29th August. It was the refuse workers, who at 10.40pm were out picking up the mountain of general trash that had built up. I can now get back to my daily routine of walking the rubbish across to the bin.

This little tale tells about how August 29th fits into party life here. It also tells you a tiny fact about the Madeleine McCann case. There is no reason to believe that all of the dumpsters were emptied on a daily basis, or anything close to it, in May 2007. Gonçalo Amaral’s check on the 188 bins of Luz is actually a little bit better than it appears at first sight.

Madeleine v paedophilia in Portugal – SIS

The 2006 Correio da Manhã report on paedophilia covered 3 aspects of activity in Portugal – a year 2000 report by the SIS, the Casa Pia scandal, and up to date statistics on paedophiles in Portuguese prisons.

I intend to dig a lot deeper into this trio, so I might as well start with the report issued by the SIS in the year 2000.

According to Wikipedia “The Serviço de Informações de Segurança or SIS (Portuguese for: Security Information Service) is the Portuguese Intelligence and Secret Service agency founded in 1984. The function of the SIS is to guarantee the internal security and prevent sabotage, terrorism, espionage and the practice of acts which, by their nature, can change or destroy the Rule of Law as constitutionally established.”

According to the SIS home page “The SIS remains committed to its essential mission to prevent and combat major threats, such as terrorism, organised crime, espionage and all acts that undermine the democratic rule of law.”

There are alternate dates given for the SIS report, but these do not appear to be significant. The report was entitled “A pedofilia em Portugal: ponto da situação”, or “Paedophilia in Portugal: state of play”. The director of the SIS at that time was Rui Pereira.

This information was allegedly passed to the criminal authorities, but so far I have only seen a single instance where action may have resulted.

The report claimed there were 4 black-spots for paedophilia in Portugal at the time – the Azores, Madeira, Lisbon and Porto. The report further claimed that there were 3 international paedophile rings operating in Portugal. It turns out they were based in Lisbon. It is claimed that one was led by a French person, whilst the other 2 were led by UK citizens.

In Lisbon, it was noted that paedophilia involved high status individuals in places like Eduardo VII park. A further claim was that boys of 10-14 were being picked up for sex, to take photos and to make videos. Then there is a rather odd assertion that the Easter and Christmas breaks were popular for paedophilia.

The picture in Porto is much shorter. It was claimed that most instances of paedophilia there were within the family.

Público” reported on the situation in the Azores in Dec 2003. They had seen the year 2000 SIS report, which split paedophilia within the islands into different categories.

One area of concern was children aged 7 to 12 being harassed at school.

Another was child prostitution, which appeared to have been on-going for a period of time in known areas of the Azores. In rural areas, this was typically amongst the poor, exchanging sexual services for essential foodstuffs, such as milk. In the more affluent areas of the islands, the issue was linked to the Azores being in magazines for homosexuals as a place where one could obtain under-age sex, and take photographs and make pornographic videos.

It is important to note that this link between homosexuality and paedophilia was published in Dec 2003, but it does not appear to have drawn any response from the Portuguese gay community, suggesting the report at that time was not on their radar.

The part of the SIS report covering Madeira does not seem to have surfaced before July 2006. The report identified poverty as the underlying driver, with Madeira a destination for sex tourists who could afford to pay both for the sex and enough to make sure silence was kept. In the case of Madeira, the report also concluded there was an issue with intra-family paedophilia.

Was the SIS document a secret? The answer appears to be yes and no. In July 2006, the Casa Pia trial was in full swing. The SIS document had been mentioned in testimony by one individual, and the judge then deliberated as to whether this document could be added to others as part of the trial record. It seems it was decided it could be made public, and the ex-director of the SIS was summoned to court to validate the report was accurate, in the sense that it was the actual document produced in 2000. Rui Pereira confirmed this was the case.

The essence of the report was published on 12 July 2006 by major media sources such as Correio da Manhã and Diário de Notícias and got re-reported by large chunks of the Portuguese media. And on 13 July 2006, ILGA Portugal faxed a letter of complaint to the Prime Minister of Portugal.

The complaint was the perceived equation of homosexuality and paedophilia in the SIS report. The fax said a recent study had found same-sex paedophilia was about 5% of cases, 90% of paedophilia occurred within the family or in institutions for the care of minors, and that the SIS report stated the most likely person to abuse a child was a heterosexual male aged around 35 years.

I have not read the original SIS report, so I have no interest in working out the accuracy or otherwise of the report re homosexual tourism. Given the date of the ILGA response, it would appear that ILGA Portugal had not picked up the Público article of Dec 2003.

How then did Público become aware of the SIS report by 2003? The initial allegation in the Casa Pia case seems to have surfaced in Nov 2002, and it looks like more than one journalist was taking an interest in the developments. The person who revealed the existence of the SIS report to the court had gone to work in France, and had been given a copy of the report by a journalist who was working on the French-Portuguese paedophile connection.

Now we have a cluster of instances that possibly primed some of what occurred in the Madeleine McCann case.

Nov 2002 or thereabouts – the Casa Pia story first emerges. Around that time, journalists became aware of the SIS report and its contents. 2004 – the Casa Pia trial began and became a media firestorm due to the high profile of the defendants. July 2006 – the SIS report gets wide airing in Portuguese main stream media.

By this time, the British Ambassador to Portugal, and the British Consul on the Algarve should have been well-primed about paedophile rings and paedophile activity in Portugal and on the Algarve. I would be amazed if they weren’t.

As to how Gerry McCann came to be discussing paedophile rings on his phone the night Madeleine disappeared, that is is a question I cannot answer.

Here is the acid test. Did the year 2000 SIS report hint at Casa Pia? No, it did not, despite the fact that the Casa Pia incident was both active and long running when the report was produced.