Madeleine – CMTV O Enigma

CMTV’s 10 year special, O Enigma, aired on 1 May 2017, and to be honest, I did not gain much from it at all.

The format was basically a day in Luz speaking to Gonçalo Amaral with two presenters. While it covered a great deal of ground, it had little depth. And it trotted out a lot of unsubstantiated claims.

It did have a drone camera with some nice aerial pics, but I would say that BBC’s Panorama won the battle of the drones.

The programme took a fairly loaded Portuguese view, but that is roughly what I would have expected, given that the target audience was Portuguese.

Gonçalo Amaral pointed out a number of inconsistencies and changes in early statements by the Tapas 9.

The Tannerman and Smithman sightings were touched on, but again with little detail.

The programme moved on to Calpol. It was incorrectly described.

Then O Enigma moved to events of the night before swiftly moving to Eddie and Keela, and dog alerts. Two pieces of Kate’s clothing, two pieces of Madeleine’s clothing, Cuddle Cat, the key fob, the boot.

Then, was there a frozen body? Was there a chilled body? Whoever believes this bumph does not understand the basics of decomposition. Animal and fish products are gutted to remove the bacteria that would rot the carcass.

The programme then rambled, over a mysterious apartment near the cemetery, a supposed rogatory that does not appear in the PJ Files, and back to Calpol.

O Enigma moved onto the McCanns suing Amaral, and Amaral winning.

There was quite a long section about the coffin in the church with an English lady about to be cremated. There are details in this that I had not heard before, but none of them stack up.

Perhaps the oddest thing was close to the end. Gonçalo Amaral said he should have remained in the PJ while writing his book. Personally, I think he would have got shredded by the Portuguese judges if he had done that.

Madeleine – Xmas day 7 – St Vincent’s

It is now New Year’s Eve in Portugal, so may I wish all the blog readers a Happy New Year.

We have a bottle of Cava chilling in the fridge to celebrate the arrival of 2017. The kids have gone to Almádena to Broadie’s to tuck into a three course meal, before the bar/restaurant customers there also bring in the New Year. Here’s Broadie’s.

day-7-1-broadies-almadena

For my Madeleine McCann connection, I would like to cover some stories relating to the church in Luz. I happen to be an atheist, an agnostic, and a scientist. Scientific literature shows that those who believe in God live longer, recover from setbacks better, and generally are happier. Therefore, as a scientist, I believe it would be cruel to impugn the religious beliefs of moderate people who follow a faith.

For that very reason, I have never entered the church in Luz. I feel it would be akin to intruding on the special place of others.

The church serves two congregations. The first is as Nossa Senhora Da Luz, Our Lady Of The Light. This is Roman Catholic and the concept is ubiquitous in Catholic religion. This is what lead to my current location being called Luz. In modern parlance, it is ‘Luz, Lagos’, in order to distinguish it from ‘Luz, Tavira’, which is along the other side of the Algarve. I have not checked but I can be reasonably sure that ‘Luz, Tavira’ also has a Roman Catholic church called Nossa Senhora Da Luz.

I don’t have any brilliant photos of our local Nossa Senhora Da Luz to regale you with, but it doesn’t matter. If you are interested in the case of Madeleine McCann, you will have seen many a photo of Nossa Senhora Da Luz, as Kate and Gerry McCann attended the Roman Catholic services.

The church is (time-)shared with the Anglican community, when it is referred to as St Vincent’s. I do have some interesting photographs of the interior of St Vincent’s. Let me stress again, I have never been inside the church. These are photos deliberately published by others on the Internet. There are lots of people in them, but I have no reason to believe any of them is connected to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. The photos are all much more recent than 2007.

The first is a graphic showing what St Vincent’s had planned for the festive season of 2016. I note that the ‘Said Eucharist’ is scheduled for 8am tomorrow morning. Perhaps that is for the early risers, while the ‘Choral Eucharist’ at 11am is for those who stayed up to see in the New Year.

day-7-2-st-vincents-2016

The next photo, which is of the interior of St Vincent’s, comes from a site that organises weddings. Let me stress again, there is no reason whatsoever to believe that anyone in the picture has anything to do with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. I am simply trying to give an idea of the interior layout of the church.

The viewpoint of the photo taker is elevated. Each pew holds about 4 people on average, with 2 pews per row. Have a look at the light sources, because there are not a lot of windows in view. From this angle, it is man-made lights in the main. There is an altar in the background, in the east end of the church. The music facilities are small-scale. There is a guitar on the left hand side and on the right hand side sits the organist. There is a door on the right hand side, the south. Perhaps that is how one gets into the bell tower.

day-7-3-st-vincents-2016

The final photo looks west towards the doors into the church. The people are unimportant, apart from giving some idea of what the ex-pat Anglican community looks like. It seems the capacity is roughly 100. The main source of light appears to be the wide open front doors. And now you can see how the previous photo could be taken from an elevated position. There is what is called a ‘minstrels balcony’ if it was in a house. I don’t know if it has another name within a church.

day-7-4-st-vincents-2016

And there you have it. The best I can give you of a Luz Tour of a place I have never entered.

Now you have to make up your mind, based on the evidence you have seen, about the lurid tales surrounding the church re Madeleine McCann.

The most gruesome is probably the story alleging Madeleine was concealed after dark in a coffin already destined for cremation. I have no idea where a coffin is placed in a service of such a type. But run this idea past what you now know about the church layout and the lighting and decide for yourself as to the feasibility of sneaking into the church at night to stuff a body into someone else’s coffin.

Then there is the story that a tunnel runs under the church to the sea. Clearly, the photos above do not show 100% of the interior, so there could be a crypt or tunnel entrance in a nook or cranny. Quite why one would worry about a tunnel that runs from the church 30 or 40m to a large rocky area near the sea is beyond me.

Happy New Year!

Madeleine – Death in Paradise

On a forum I use a fair bit the cremation tale came up. In brief, the McCanns had a key to the local church, went in (presumably overnight) and put Madeleine’s body into the coffin of someone who went on to be cremated.

I posted a rebuttal of this, based on several requirements that make nonsense of this idea.

However, as we reside in Portugal, and as neither of us is a spring chicken, it was the spur to have a look at what happens if there is a death in paradise. I found it to be a bit of an eye-opener.

My key document is https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/467633/Death_Procedures_in_Portugal_September_2015.pdf This goes by the cheery title of “Death involving British Nationals in Portugal”. I do hope you have had your breakfast already.

Local Burial, Cremation and Repatriation

Under normal circumstances, burial or cremation within Portugal must take place within 72 hours of death. Where there has been a post mortem examination, burial or cremation must be carried out within 48 hours of the body being released. The law does not specify a timescale for repatriation.”

So, unless one repatriates a body, everything on the next-of-kin end has to move very fast. After the authorities have dealt with it, a body is not going to hang around for a long time, unless it is repatriated.

This is of impact to us because we have family relatives across Europe, the USA and Australia. It does not impact on the Madeleine case, so I’ll move on.

If death is clearly natural e.g. a person dies after a protracted illness, a doctor signs a death certificate, and the timescale is up and running. As it so happens, the cause of death is not on any certificate available to the NOK. That goes into a confidential database that relatives cannot access.

If a death is sudden or accidental, an autopsy is carried out. This can involve the body being held by the authorities for a few days. Equally, the body might be held for months. The process requires that no information is revealed while it is in progress. Then the body is released and the timescale starts running. Again, this is hardly convenient for relatives who are widespread.

Repatriation is far from straight-forward.

UK Coroners

The Coroner in England and Wales is obliged by law to hold an inquest into the cause of any unnatural or violent death of a person whose remains physically lie in his or her area, even if the death occurred overseas and a post mortem has already been carried out before repatriation of the remains.”

Such a process can take months. However, this is hardly relevant to the Madeleine case, so again I will move on.

The final twist I discovered in this document was residency. This does not affect Madeleine, but it is important in even this simple explanation of Death in Paradise. If one is a resident, one’s organs are up for grabs, for transplants and scientific research. This is not an opt-in scheme. It is an opt-out scheme. A resident who wishes to opt out has to 1) go on a register for this purpose and 2) carry a card declaring their opt-out status, at all times.

So Death in Paradise strikes me as a particularly unpleasant experience for NOK. In the simplest of terms, the British Consulate recommends getting a funeral director, who will do all the logistics.

Let me return to the notion of a coffin in Luz church intended for a cremation. I had multiple objections to the notion that the McCanns retrieved Madeleine’s body from wherever, sneaked into the church at night, put Madeleine’s body into a coffin intended for cremation, then sneaked out again. Frankly, I still do.

However, one thing emerged from my consideration of this is that cremation in Portugal is not like cremation in the UK (or my experience of it). There are 5 or 6 crematoria in Portugal, and they are just industrial ovens. There is no chapel. There is no service. A body goes in. One does not see anything of the processes. Ashes come out. According to an ex-pats forum, the coffin comes from a church before this.

In other words, it would appear that bodies intended for cremation do indeed reside inside a consecrated church prior to the act of cremation.

As I said, based on other elements, which include the speed at which a cremation must be carried out, the idea that the McCanns used this route to dispose of Madeleine’s body is ludicrous.

In the absence of a list of instances in which a coffin intended for cremation lay overnight in Nossa Senhora da Luz, between the time when the McCanns got a key and when that key was returned, it is possible to speculate anything.

However the reality is such an act is extremely unlikely. On top of this, the tale requires that the McCanns did not ‘get away’ with it as it is known about, but the person knowing about it has done nothing, other than spreading a rumour.

I am filing this in my red herrings folder.