Friday, May 20, 2011

What Should the Face of a Mother with a Missing Child Look Like?”

Kate McCann's interview in
 ... saparecida

Many thanks to Laura and Ines from MCF

What Should the Face of a Mother with a Missing Child Look Like?”

There is no greater pain as that of the disappearance of a child and “believe me that nobody would want to be in our situation” says Madeleine's mother, four years after her daughter's disappearance. Kate talks to Destak about the endless nightmare that began on the night of 3 May, in Praia da Luz, aggravated by the false accusations thrown at her and which led people to forget that there is a child still missing.
Isabel Stilwell/Editorial@DestakPt

What made you write this book?

I wrote this book to share the truth with people and above all so that our children would have an account of the truth. The decision to publish it was taken to raise money for the Madeleine's Fund in order to continue the search for our daughter – we are the only ones that are still searching for her – We also hope the book brings new information that may lead us to her.

Aren't you afraid the book might be misinterpreted?

I took care that my book would be complete, truthful and real. I knew I had to put everything in it, especially for my children. When I do something I ensure to give myself 100% and from the bottom of my heart, and I didn't want to avoid the most difficult subjects.

You complained about having been accused of being cold. Can this book change that pre-judgment that was made of you?

I only write about the truth and how I felt, what I was feeling -who can dictate what the face of the mother of a missing child should look like? People may judge as they want, but unless they have been through what we have been it's impossible for them to know what someone would feel in these circumstances. Why does anyone feel the right to judge when that judgment is based on ignorance? Believe me, nobody would want to be in our situation.

You said, repeatedly, that the guilt about not being there to protect your daughter is a heavy burden that you'll carry forever. Why do you think, in spite of that, many people insist on “negligence”? Might that be a defence mechanism?

I believe so. I think that Madeleine's abduction has terrified many people, especially parents. There are some people who criticize as a way of self-protection. While blaming us they try to convince themselves that this would never be possible to happen to them; or to their children. It's understandable. One doesn't want to admit to such a horrible thing. However whilst the situation remains, there is still a little girl missing and separated from her family, and a criminal who steals children who is allowed to be free.

You write that on the day before the disappearance Madeleine's complained of having woken up and cried, that the pyjamas had a strange stain, and that you've thought she was excessively tired. Did you connect all these facts before, or afterwards?

To appraise events after we know what happened next it's so easy; it would be fantastic to be able to guess the future! Never, in a million years should I have been able to imagine that something so horrible could happen to any of my children. It simply wasn’t in our inner radar. Our only concern when Madeleine made that comment, was the possibility that the children might have woken up. A sinister reason to explain the fact never crossed our minds. By that time we just considered innocent explanations – maybe tea could have been spilt on the top, and the weariness could be due to an intense week. Why should we have thought anything else?

You've since raised the hypothesis that the twins could have been sedated. Should the Police have carried out tests?

Yes, I think the Police should have heard our worries and have tested the children, during the following days, even if only to eliminate the possibility of them having been sedated.

Did you feel that the Police weren't doing everything to find your daughter?
Our anguish on the night of the disappearance was intensified by the feeling that they were acting as if there wasn't any urgency. The Police answered slower than we expected and we felt our conviction that our daughter had been abducted, as opposed to the idea that she could have wandered of, wasn't taken into account. It's obvious that the language barrier made everything much harder. Like any mother or father in our situation, you can imagine, we wanted everything possible to be done , and as fast as possible. It was terribly disconcerting when the Police left us alone from 3 am till next day's morning, without anything happening, apparently.

Do you complain about the lack of information given to you?

The lack of information it's unbearable when something so awful like this happens. It seemed inhuman. We need to know that everything is being done to find her; the girl needs and deserves everything to be done to find her.

If the reason given to you for the lack of information was the Secrecy of Justice, how did you react when you discovered that the journalists knew more than you?

We felt that the secrecy didn't apply to the Police, in other words, to some sectors of the Police (We know that many have been honest and worked hard, and in no way do we want to generalise). We raised the question of the obvious leak of information with those responsible for the investigation. They've admitted that those leaks were happening, but no internal inquiry was conducted to ascertain who was responsible. However we were told that if we shared any information about the investigation we could be sentenced to two years in prison.

What do you know today about the dogs’ reliability, whose “testimony” was decisive for you to be considered suspects?

We know that the use of tracker dogs isn't exact science. The alert of one of these dogs is not considered proof – the alerts need to be confirmed by the presence of body parts (for the cadaver dogs) or by blood. A recent scientific study tested if the dogs were able to identify parts of a body in decomposition that have been in a room. Some rooms had parts of a body, and others only rotten vegetables, and the dog's handler didn't know which rooms contained the body parts. The material was removed and the dogs and the handler examined the rooms less than 12 hours later.

It was verified that when the dogs alerted it was 2 times more probable that the alert to body parts was wrong. Similar results have been demonstrated with dogs trained to detect drugs. Imagine how reliable the results would be if the dogs had done the test 3 months later, instead of 12 hours later?

“Madeleine's blood” has been mentioned. Was it blood? Was it Madeleine's?
The sample hasn't been identified by the Laboratory as blood. The DNA didn't match Madeleine's. The experts stated that the sample was probably the result of the mixture from 3 people's DNA (and probably 5 people!). The Police knew about these results before we were interrogated as arguidos.

Suddenly you became aware that you were the main suspect. How did you feel?

We knew that when the Police focussed on us, they stopped the search for the person who took Madeleine and so they wouldn't find our daughter. Our main worry was that it was being said in the Media that there was evidence of Madeleine's death, and it was obvious that there wasn't, which showed clearly that the Police wasn't searching for our daughter. It's not surprising that this provoked rage and perturbation by us, especially as if people believed her to be dead, they would stop looking for her, they would think it to be worthless. It was devastating.

Don't you fear the book reawakens the Portugal-U.K Derby? When will the PJ say that things did not happen exactly in that way?

I hope, from the bottom of my heart that everyone is reminded that we haven't found Madeleine yet. She's still missing. She needs us and we need to find her, to bring her back home to her family. It doesn't matter if we are British or Portuguese, we are a family of five from whom one of the children has been stolen. An innocent child who needs help. Isn't that the most important thing?

Aren't you afraid that dedicating your life to Maddie's search there'll be less time from you for the twins?

I was worried that could happen, in the beginning, not anymore, because that's not what happens. Sean and Amelie deserve to be happy and loved and I'm determined to assure them that they have the mummy they need and deserve. They are wonderful children and I love them deeply. Gerry and I devote a lot of time to Madeleine's search but we are careful that this won't have an impact on our time with our other children. I didn't go back to my job as a doctor, so I have all the time when Sean and Amelie are at school to work on Madeleine's search. And we both dedicate to the case when they are already in bed. But they know we are looking for their sister and that that's why we have to work so much. They want desperately their sister to come home.

Will you ever stop searching for your daughter?

Would you, Isabel? Would you be able to stop searching for your daughter? I don't believe any mother or father to give up on a child. So the answer only can be an unequivocal no.

Case reviewed by independent team

“At this moment our Prime Minister has agreed that the case shall be reviewed by an independent investigation team. That's what we've been asking for two years. This review is needed in order to analyse every aspect of the case, to connect bits of information and to help identify the areas that need deeper investigation. We believe that the review of the case is needed before the reopening of the investigation, for it to have a concrete direction. We look anxiously for the action to start and we believe this re-analysis will increase the chances to find Madeleine and those responsible for her abduction.”

“I know God is taking care of her”

“The absence of Madeleine in our lives is painful and touchable. However I know that I need to be positive to continue searching for her. I also know that I have to be a strong and joyful mummy to Sean and Amelie. Our family and friends are extraordinary and we also receive support and courage from so many people we don't know. The benefit of kindness should not be underestimated. We had fundamental help from a therapist and my faith remains strong. I believe that wherever Madeleine may be, God is with her, taking care of her. When the pain becomes unbearable, we discover that an intense and hard run also helps.”

Leads that need investigating

“I truly believe that there are several lines of investigation that need to be explored so that under the worst scenarios, they can be eliminated. There are key individuals who are fundamental for the investigation and who need to be identified.