Justice 4 ALL Madeleine McCann Family
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Sun: 5 years after Maddie disappeared..

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Sun: 5 years after Maddie disappeared..

Post by Chicane on Sat May 05, 2012 6:36 pm


Five years after she disappeared there’s little sign of Maddie in Praia da Luz, just note saying... 'Still missing, still missed'
The McCanns vow to continue search for daughter

From ANTONELLA LAZZERI, in Praia da Luz, Portugal

AT a whitewashed church in a Portuguese village, a tiny card displays three photos of a little girl.

It is tucked away in the display box outside the church in Praia da Luz, with the words: “Still Missing — Still Missed”. The faded message alongside it reads: “Please pray for me.”

Five years on from her abduction, the card, at the church of Our Lady of Light, is the only sign that Madeleine McCann was ever here.

She was snatched from her bed at a holiday apartment at the Mark Warner Ocean Club in the centre of the village on May 3, 2007.

Her parents Kate and Gerry McCann were dining at a nearby tapas bar. When Kate went to check on Madeleine and her two-year-old twin brother and sister, Sean and Amelie, the little girl had gone.

It was the start of a nightmare for her parents that has lasted five years — and for the world, the beginning of one of the most puzzling mysteries of all time.

Number 5a, the apartment from where Madeleine was snatched just days before her fourth birthday, remains locked and shuttered. All attempts to sell it by its British owner have failed.

Kate, 44, and Gerry, 43, regularly return to the tranquil resort. Kate says it is where she feels closest to Madeleine, who would now be almost nine. It is where she last saw her — asleep in her bed clutching her favourite toy, Cuddle Cat.

The McCanns are well known in the resort. But few people in Praia da Luz want to talk about them.

Although most locals feel immense sympathy for them, some believe the abduction of Madeleine has had a terrible effect on the village.

One said: “We used to be thriving. In summer, streets were packed with holidaymakers. Now, not so much.

“Everyone in the world now knows the name Praia da Luz — but for the wrong reason. All they remember is Madeleine McCann.”

Many others still blame the McCanns for leaving their children alone. One said: “We do not even speak to each other about Madeleine McCann. No one wants to talk about it. Before, we were known for being a beautiful place, now it is always ‘Madeleine, Madeleine, Madeleine’. ”

Expats Barry and Julie Halls, originally from Essex, recalled Madeleine’s disappearance this week: “We were just coming up to high season and the place was empty.”

“There was a stigma attached to the resort for a long time.”

On Wednesday, in the church of Our Lady of Light, prayers have been said for Madeleine. Around 30 people attended a service at which they were given the new picture of how Madeleine would look today.

A photo of her was projected on to the church wall and a candle was lit — the same candle that has been lit on the 50th day, the 100th, and all anniversaries of Madeleine’s disappearance.

Father Haynes Hubbard, who led the prayers, said: “We light it again as a sign of renewed hope to find Madeleine.” He and his wife Susan — who both moved to Portugal from Canada — have become close friends to Kate and Gerry. In the early days after their daughter’s abduction, he gave them a key to the church and they would go to pray alone there.

Now Kate often goes to stay with the couple, who have also visited the McCanns at their home in Rothley, Leicestershire.

Father Hubbard says that despite the lack of posters of Madeleine in the village, to his congregation she is not forgotten.

Referring to how his churchmembers helped Kate and Gerry after Madeleine vanished, he said: “We were there to be with, to cry with.

“We didn’t want to ask them questions, we just wanted to help them.”

He added: “There are some naysayers who claim things have changed for the worse. I don’t accept that. I have children, and they are growing up here fine. Luz is a lovely place. Happiness still happens here. Grief still happens here. I hope Praia da Luz can be remembered not for what happened to (Kate and Gerry McCann), but what we did for them.”

Kate and Gerry have searched incessantly for Madeleine.

They launched a global manhunt, funded by public donations that at one stage topped £2million.

In 2008, the Portuguese police shelved the case but the McCanns campaigned for it to be reopened — and for the British police to conduct a review.

That review was granted after the couple penned an open letter in The Sun last May, begging David Cameron to help them.

As they have learnt in the past 12 months, the process is long and involved. But it has given them hope — and hope is all they have to cling to.

Asked recently how long they will search, Kate said firmly: “As long as it takes — no parent could give up on their child.”

Kate, who worked as a locum GP, has never gone back to work.

For much of the past five years she has spent every day going through police files, desperately trying to find the one clue that will reunite her with her daughter.

Last year she wrote a book simply called Madeleine which was serialised in The Sun.

For many couples, the trauma of the past five years could have driven them apart.

But the McCanns say their relationship has never foundered.

In a recent interview, Gerry, a cardiologist, said: “We’re very lucky in that our relationship was very good, very strong before this happened and I’m not sure we’d have survived if that wasn’t the case.”

As the McCanns have suffered — in public and in private — the man many hold responsible for bungling the investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance has mercilessly cashed in on the little girl.

Goncalo Amaral led the woefully inadequate Portuguese police probe.

He was sacked from the case and after his retirement wrote a book, The Truth Of The Lie, in which he asserted that Madeleine was dead and that her parents had lied about her abduction.

The McCanns won a court case banning the book, although this was later overturned.

They are currently waiting for a £1 million libel case against him to be heard.

But unbowed as ever, Amaral travelled to Praia da Luz recently for a TV show in which he again attacked the McCanns.

Standing outside apartment 5a, he asserted that Madeleine had died in the apartment and that for the past five years her parents have maintained an elaborate charade of lies.

When the TV host remonstrated with him, the vile ex-cop replied: “I do not know why he (Gerry McCann) says there must be a body. In order to prove the child is dead it is not necessary to have a body.

“In this case, if we could abstract ourselves of the name of the child that disappeared, of the child’s parents and just look at the facts in an objective manner and move forward with the investigation, facts would speak for themselves!”

For Kate and Gerry, his disgusting accusations will be no surprise.

At least they can take comfort from one of his other assertions — that the truth about what happened to Madeleine will only be learnt if the Portuguese police investigation is reopened.

It is something they have demanded for nearly four years.

Amaral claimed: “There is no point in saying that the child is dead, or that the child is alive.

“What we need is to work the investigation and carry it out to the end, something that was not done.

“The investigation of this case can be considered as an unfinished investigation that needs to be completed.”

For Kate and Gerry that reinvestigation could hold the key to them being reunited with Madeleine — or at least having the comfort of knowing what happened to her.

It would also show Amaral’s accusations as being what they are — evil lies.

Number of posts : 197
Location : Amsterdam
Registration date : 2009-09-02


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