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GNR Report on Searches Carried Out

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Post  Info Sat 20 Feb - 10:31

Processos Vol XIII

Pages 3491 – 3505


From the GNR

To: The Coordinator of the Criminal Investigation

Portimao 3rd December 2007


Subject: Despatch of Report on the Searches carried out in P da L


In accordance with your request mentioned above, we are sending the report on the searches carried out in P da L under the coordination of the GNR, with regard to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

With compliments.


Group Commander

Antonio Dias de Matos

Major



REPORT


Subject: Searches carried out in relation to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

I Situation.

1. On 3rd May at about 22.40 the Lagos GNR post was contacted by telephone and informed about the disappearance of an English girl, Madeleine McCann, aged 3, who was on holiday with her family at the OC, Block 5, apartment 5ª, P da L, Lagos.


2. This situation immediately led to the deployment to P da L of members of the GNR emergency patrol, consisting of officers José María Batista Roque and Neslon Filipe Pacheco da Costa, who, at the moment the communication was received, were in the Odeaxere area and who immediately left forthe OC, where they arrived at 23.00, with the aim of finding out about the situation.

3. The patrol found the situation to be somewhat strange as the way the child had disappeared was not clear as she had been sleeping inside the apartment with the twins, whilst her parents were out dining 50 metres away in the same resort, and therefore the officers contacted the GNRpost commander at 23.17, to tell him that the parents were holding the hypothesis that the child had been abducted.

4. The commander of the Lagos post, Sargeant Antonio Henrique Conceicao Duarte immediately left for the site the girl had disappeared from, telling the officers to preservethe apartment, and arrived at 23.50 at the OC, where he was informed about the situation together with the patrol officers and where he saw that searches had already taken place, carried out by the girl’s father and locals, but without any results.

5. On 4th May at 00.12 the Post Commander ordered that the GNR Post should contact the PJ in order to inform them of the events, considering that this could be a crime that was of their competence for investigation, also concluding that more means were needed at the scene to carry out searches to find the girl.

6. At 00.40, given the complexity of the situation that seemed to surround the disappearance, the GNR post commander requested reinforcements from two sniffer dog teams from the Portimao territorial group to help in the searches, considering the possibility that the girl could have left the apartment on foot and could be somewhere not very far from the OC resort.

7. At 01.00 after the group commander had been briefed about the situation, telephone contact was made with an official from the Queluz GNR school, with the aim of their releasing search and rescue dog teams, seeing as these are specially trained to find missing persons, which is not the case with the Portimao sniffer dogs, which are essentially patrol dogs.

II Development of Action

1. On 4th May, after having evaluated the situation surrounding the disappearance, the Lagos Post Commander ordered searches for the child to take place and contacted officers who were at home, forming a force of nine officers who searched during the night and early morning.

2. At 02.00 they arrived at P da L and began searching with the Portimao sniffer dog teams, the terrain searches were extended until the morning with the dogs and officers on the scene, as well as the night guard and local people who volunteered to help in the searches that took place throughout the night.

3. During this nocturnal period, the searches took place along the entire perimeter of the OC, in the urban area, plots of land and the nearest buildings, the officers searching all the place where there was a possibility the child might be, this area being extended later to include all of the beach zone.

4. At 08.00 three officers with 4 search and rescue dogs from Queluz arrived at the scene, these dogs immediately began to operate.

5. During the searches that began again on 4th May in the morning, 9 officers from the Lagos post were used as well as officers from the Rapid Intervention Force, who were sent to the beach to collaborate in the searches talking place there, and who were occupied in this task for the rest of the day.

6. At 11.00 the Commander of the Portimao Post went to the beach, having noted the concrete situation in which the disappearance had occurred, namely the fact that more than 12 hours had passed, without any positive sign from the searches that had taken place, felt it was urgent that the actioncommander should appear on the scene and he named the head of the Criminal Investigation Section, Major Sequiera as the Operation Commander, the latter arriving at the scene at about 15.00 on 4th May.

7. With the aim of organising more extended searches of the terrain, a meeting was organised at about 15.00 with all the civil protection competent entities, namely the President of the Lagos Municipal Chamber, the President of the Luz parish, the maritime authority and the districtcommander of search operations with the aim of their collaboration in the actions to be taken, the GNR being responsible for the coordination of the land searches and the Maritime authority would initiate specific searches within its area of competence.

8. It was understood that everything was prepared by these entities in the operation of searches that were designated for the area and great advantage would be gained from the knowledge of the terrain of the persons that would be used.

9. The CDOS was asked about the viability of using the SNBPC helicopter during the searches that would take place in the afternoon and it was defined that the helicopter would be used in the searches and would be in P da L at about 16.00.

10. Lines of action were established, from the organisation of the searches to be carried out and the definition of areas, according to their priority, using the different means considered adequate, by officers from the different security forces, by firemen and by civil protection officers.

11. At 16.00 searches using the helicopter were initiated, the helicopter was used for 90 minutes, covering the entire area from the coast line to the EN 125, between the limits of Atalaia and Ponta da Cama da Vaca, this being the limit of the area considered probable for the child to be found, according to the hypothesis that she had leftthe apartment where she was staying on foot.

12. During the helicopter search, the area previously referred to was covered, in phases, running from north to South, this method is quite efficient in open areas, where something that does not fit with the scenario being examined is easily identifiable, however in the areas being searched, given the quantity of buildings and garden areas present as well as the vegetation composed essentially of small and medium sized shrubs, the detection of a child is difficult, given her small size, whether she is immobile or has fallen in a position that does not reveal her physical contours or covered by vegetation.

13. Simultaneously the searches for the child continued, by means of the officers referred to previously, in all the areas surrounding the beach, and many local people were seen, who were looking for the child on their own initiative.

14. At 20.00 a new meeting was held with the entities involved, in the sense of making an evaluation of how the searches had beencarried out up to that moment and given the absence of results, it was decided to continue them for the next days or until some result was achieved.

15. On the part of the GNR, as responsible organisation, not just for the searches on the ground, but also for the security of the perimeter surroundingthe apartment the child disappeared from, it was agreed to maintain a force headed by an officer, considering that on the scene there was a concentrated number of national and foreign press teams and the site had also become a meeting point for people going through information about the case which needed to be gathered and passed on to the police.

16. Considering that the searches that had taken place with the help of the helicopter had not yielded any results, it was agreed to reinforce and extend the foot searches and reinforcement from the search and rescue dog team was requested, which arrived at P da L at 23.00 with 3 more sniffer teams for a total of six officers and eight specialised dogs.

17. During the nocturnal period, field searches were reduced, given the lack of visibility, searches were made by EPG officers with the search and rescue dogs which concentrated particularly on the urban area of P da L.

18. The commander of the Portimao Prosecutor Division, which provided the officers for the nocturnal period was asked for the search operation order, which took place, the officers of that search force being organised by attributing them an area, next to the coastline, surrounding P da L, based upon the knowledge these officers had of the area.

19. In the nocturnal period and for the duration of the search phase, officers from the Criminal Investigation Nucleus remained on the ground who made the first exploration of diverse information that emerged, which was then channelled to the PJ, these officers also covered the locations closest to P da L, working in a certain way as operation reserve command during that period.

20. During this phase, during the nocturnal period, sniffer teams from the Portimao Territorial Group that were directed essentially to carry out patrols and searches in the urban area of P da L.

21. Indications were given to the Commander of the Albufeira Traffic Division to send available patrol teams to the Lagos area with the aim of carrying out a reinforcement of circulation control from the A22 and EN125, with the aim of guaranteeing greater intensity of patrols and STOP actions on the access roads to the Algarve, under the responsibility of police officers from that unit.

22. On 5th May at 08.00 the second day of searching began and given the absence of results from the previous day, a first systemised search area was established, including the entire area south of the EN 125, Quatro Estradas/Atalaia and Almadena/Burgau being the limits, with an approximate area of 16 km2, which had already been covered on 4th May by the CDOS helicopter between 16.00 and 17.30 and by officers and members of other entities that collaborated in the searches.

23. This area, considered to be the close perimeter of the site of disappearance, was divided into 17 sectors, the search responsibility was given to the different teams that had been established for this purpose, during the morning and afternoon. The insistence upon searches in this close perimeter was justified by its being the most probable area where the girl would be found, still working on the basis of the theory that she could have the left the apartment where she was staying on foot.

24. Working from this perspective, the probability was that she would have walked south in the direction of Rua Francisco Gentil Martins, because of the fact that it was an area that she had passes several times on the way to the beach, because it was the zone with the best illumination and because the road sloped downwards. The probability of her having taken the route towards Rua Agostinho da Silva, either to the right or to the left, was considered to be relatively reduced, because of the fact that this area was darker and that the ground layout presents an ascending direction. In these theories, it was considered to be a remote probability that the girl would have walked north to the Rua 1º de Maio and the EN 537-1 that links P da L to the EN 125 (Espiche crossing), considering that she would have done this over 1.2 km and where there would have been a greater degree of certainty that she would have been seen by motorists travelling on the road in either direction, the latter never having been reported.

25. On 5th May, those directly involved in the operations that took place in P da L and the surrounding area were 6 officers from the EPG sniffer team (search and rescue team), all available officers from the Lagos territorial post (about 20 officers), reinforcements from the Portimao Territorial Division (10 officers), reinforcements from the Silves Territorial Division (10 officers), from Albufeira (10 officers), from the Portimao Command Group (15 officers – FIR and IC), from the Faro TG (4 officers), GIPS (6 officers), from the Portimao Prosecutor’s Division (5 officers) a number of Guarda officers who were maintained for the rest of the search days.

26. It is be to be noted that the Commander of the Lagos Territorial Post, given the seriousness of the situation, cancelled the leave of officers from the post for seven days following the girl’s disappearance, considering that it was necessary to have officers with knowledge of the area, not only for the search teams but also for the security of the Operation Command and the apartment the girl had disappeared from.

27. Others who took part in the searches were officers from the Lagos Public Security Police, the Maritime Police within their area of responsibility (maritime public domain), officers from Municipal Civil Protection, volunteer firemen from Lagos and from the Portuguese Red Cross.

28. Six officers from the Algarve Canine Rescue team (ECRA) – a legally constituted association - joined in the searches by volunteering their help at the P da L Operations Post.

29. Each search team always had an officer responsible for contact with the Lagos GNR Territorial Post, this officer would be attributed the area that the team would search and would give a photocopy of the marked area to each of the officers showing the indications about the technical manner the searches should adopt, with the formation of search lines, there had to be a visual over view of the limits of each officer’s area and they were told to observe all accessible sites, where it could be possible to hide a girl or a body and the residents should be asked whether they had any useful information.

30. At the end of each search period, the individuals responsible for each group, whether they were officers or civilians, would present themselves at the Command Post, with the purpose of reporting the way in which the searches had been carried out, whether the whole of the attributed area had been searched and if any pertinent information had been gathered.

31. An organised group of volunteers, mainly English residents from the area, were also integrated into the searches, who also had a Command Post contact member, this group was attributed sectors that had been previously searched by GNR officers.

32. At 11.00 a meeting took place in the Portimao DIC installations, attended by the Directors and coordinators from the PJ, the Group Commander and the officer whose signature appears below, in their capacity as responsible officers for the ground searches. The Guarda referred to the way the searches had been carried out, the feasibility of implementing STOP actions on the roads to Luz was discussed, the PJ not having any objection, considering that it could be useful to the investigation.

33. On this day, apart from the actions implemented by the Traffic Brigade on the furthest roads, STOP operations were carried out on the EN 125, in a discontinuous manner, to control the access routes to P da L and surrounding areas, with the aim of creating instability, given the possibility that the girl had been taken by someone within this perimeter and was aiming to take her from the area. With the help of patrols from the PTR, Aljezur and Odeceixe, STOP actions were also carried out on the EN 120, considering it to be a regional penetration road to the area of Costa Vicentina.

34. The Lagos Security Police also carried out a random control of vehicles, using the STOP actions especially at the EN 125 roundabout that gives access to the A22, these actions were continued over several days.

35. On 6th May at 08.00 the third day of searches began, continuing to make efforts in different sectors of the close perimeter, considering that this is an area with a high number of houses, that it was important to go through this area again, with the aim of contacting their owners, collecting information that could be useful in locating the missing girl. Effort was made that the teams did not repeat sectors they had searched previously, given that people have the tendency to search in the same way, thereby minimising situations of error in the execution of searches in the different sectors of this close perimeter.

36. On this day a second level of searching was begun, with them being extended to an intermediary perimeter, in a semi circle with the eastern limit in Lagos/ EN 120/ Bensafrim/ Barao de Sao Joao / Barao de Sao Miguel and Boca do Rio as the western limit, covering an are of almost 75 km2, divided in 17 sectors with a wider net than the area of the close perimeter, a mixture of searches was carried out in this area, using foot and motorised teams, especially the use of motorcycles, depending on the topography of the terrain. The need to extend the perimeter of the searches was due to the fact that no sign of the girl had been found during the previous two days in the areas that had been searched and from the third day the theory that the girl might have been taken by someone was considered and, in the face of this hypothesis, the search operation was given a new scenario, becoming the search for a girl – alive or dead –(the second possibility being the most probable) who had been left somewhere by an abductor.

37. In the hypothesis that the girl had been taken by someone and taking into account the time that had passed before the Guarda was alerted, it would be possible that she had been transported to a distance quite far away, further than any of the search perimeters, however the lack of any information about what really could have happened, makes it necessary that the decision about how to direct the searches, should be based only on the typology of the crime eventually in question and on the profile of the aggressor of this kind of crime, who would normally leave the victim in a place not very far from where she had been taken and who would in most cases bury the child. Within the theory, searches were made using an all terrain vehicle of the area composed of the Mata Nacional do Barao de S. Joao.

38. On this day, 6th May, the same number of Guarda officers was deployed as on the previous day and was reinforced by 16 officers from the Evora Territorial Brigade who replaced officers from the Faro Territorial Post, the latter being used in STOP operations on the main access roads to Lagos. The remaining entities and search groups used the day before were maintained with the exception of the Red Cross which only participated on 5th May.

39. During the nocturnal period, as on the previous nights, about 18 officers were deployed, guaranteeing the functioning of the Control Post, security and the preservation of the site the child had disappeared from, the control of surrounding areas and the closest localities was continued, searching for suspicious movements, whether by people or vehicles, mainly using officers from the Criminal Investigation Nucleus.

40. On 7th May at 08.00 the fourth day of searching began, at that time there was no sign or positive result and so sectors of the perimeter continued to be searched, new examinations of the close perimeter were carried out by new teams and searches of the intermediate perimeter were continued, the means used being similar to those of the previous days.

41. On this day the perimeter of the searches was extended to Lagos in the north and to Vila do Bispo in the east, for an are of about 250 km2, these searches being carried out almost entirely with the use of vehicles, given the topography of the terrain and the vegetation, this was called the distant perimeter, with an average radius of 15 km from P da L, being divided in 14 search areas.

42. The same activity carried out on the previous nights took place, namely the deployment of officers from the criminal investigation nucleus, controlling any eventual suspicious movements in the areas surrounding P da L.

43. On the 8th May at 08.00 the fifth day of searching began, maintaining the theories of the previous days, in other words the lack of existence of any information to direct the searches to any specific area and searches were continued within the three perimeters with the same number of officers.

44. On this day the search operation was joined by forest fire fighting officers from the Terras do Infante Association, using three all terrain vehicles, who carried out searches using their own means in forest and rough terrain areas of the distant perimeter, using their exhaustive knowledge of these areas gleaned from their daily activities of preventing forest fires.

45. Given the number of days that had passed since the disappearance of Madeleine McCann it was considered appropriate to request help from the Lagos Voluntary Firemen who took part in the operations, and on this day carried out searches as the Bravura dam, situated to the north of Odeaxere, using their aquatic equipment, considering that a body that has fallen or been thrown into water tends to surface after 72 hours, this team searched all the branches of the dam using an outboard motor and found nothing suspicious.

46. Officers from the Lagos Aeroclub offered their help in flying over the search areas with the aim of collaborating in the ongoing operations, their offer was accepted by the Operations Commander and they were instructed to fly over the Intermediate perimeter, they used 4 ultra light planes, flying at low height and in a line formation, but found no information to report.

47. On 9th May at 08.00 the sixth day of searching began, continuing with the search sequences of the previous days using teams of officers from the different entities that had participated in the operation, searching in the three perimeters that had been defined, at this stage all the sectors had been covered at least once by different teams, using all terrain vehicles in the distant perimeter, motorcycles in the intermediate perimeter and foot and horse teams in the close and intermediate perimeters, as well as air searches, without any sign of the girl being found.

48. Given the status of the searches, the officer undersigned, as Operation Commander proposed to the Portimao Territorial Group Commander that the searches of the area should be concluded, considering that the efforts made until then, with an elevated number of human resources used had allowed for the searching of a vast area, especially due to actions of the search and rescue sniffer teams, which with a great physical and spirited skill, with the help of technical capacity, consolidated by years of accumulated experience in multiple scenarios, searched vast areas without detecting any sign leading to the girl’s location.

49. On10th May at 08.00 the seventh day of searching began, different actions took place in the sequence of the previous days’ searches, without yielding any positive results and at the end of the afternoon the searches were concluded and the participation of the entities that had carried out activities under the coordination of the Guarda was dispensed with, from that date onwards the Guarda only guaranteed the security and the preservation of the area surrounding the apartment the girl had disappeared from.

50. The search and rescue sniffer teams continued to carry out searches - as can be seen from the report in Annex B - until 18th May when they returned to the Queluz post.



III Conclusion

1. In parallel to the investigations carried out by the PJ and in strict collaboration with this entity, the GNR coordinated all the searches carried out in the areas surrounding the resort the girl disappeared from, gradually increasing the search perimeters, extending them to a radius of 15 km from P da L from 4th to 10th May.


2. Searches carried out in the Maritime Public Domain were the responsibility of the Maritime Authorities, who carried them out within the scope of their knowledge, technical experience and using their own means.


3. Given the operational scenario and taking into account the deployment of officers and the areas searched, at the end of the seventh day of operations it was decided that all possibility of finding the girl by means of searches of the area had been exhausted, no sign or information relevant to the investigation having been found.


4. Taking into account that during the searches carried out, care was taken to minimise the hypothesis of error, with the division of the area into sectors and searches undertaken by different teams, it is considered that if there is any possibility that the girl should be found in areas searched, her eventual location would lead to action from the ongoing criminal investigation.


Annexes

Annex A. Map of deployment of officers and teams.


Annex B Report on the sniffer search and rescue teams.

Annex C. Military letter with search area limits.


Portimao, 30th November 2007

Signed

Operation Commander

Luis Manuel Goncalves Sequeira
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Processos Vol XIII

Pages 3517 – 3524


GNR Report

Subject: Report of Searches Related to the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann


Annex B – Report on the Sniffer Dog Search and Rescue Team


1. Methods used

The sniffer dog search and rescue team of the GNR was sent to Vila da Luz in the attempt of locating Madeleine McCann, aged four, of British nationality, who disappeared on the night of 3rd May, from apartment 5 A, Block 5 of the OC resort, the team was composed as follows:


Sargeant Silva – Dog: Timmy
Officer Cortez – Dog: Sacha
Officer Sousa – Dog: Kolly/Cookie
Officer Rosa – Dog: Oscar
Officer Martins – Dog: Fusco
Officer Fernandes – Dog: Rex/ Zarus


II Description

After arriving at the scene, the first three members of the team, the officers gathered some information from the girl’s parents about the places they tended to frequent with the children during their stay in P da L up until now, the parents replied that the only areas that their daughter would frequent since their arrival, was Praia da Luz beach, always accompanied by babysitters and resort pool area, where there was also a playground.

After this, at about 08.00 the three search and rescue sniffer dog teams (Silva with Timmy, Cortez with Sacha and Sousa with Kolly and Cookie) who had arrived at the site, began searching, leaving the resort in the direction of the beach.

During the entire morning, searches were made of the beach and rocks, from Rocha Negra to the area of Ponta da Gaviota (an approximate area of 2 km). During the morning searches were also made of the areas surrounding Praia da Luz, with a radius of about 300 metres, as well as some abandoned houses, wells and plots of land inside P da L.

After an evaluation of the situation in the field, it was decided to request two more search and rescue sniffer dogs from the GNR Queluz station, given the extent of the terrain to be searched, whilst the hypothesis that the girl could have left the apartment on foot was not discarded.

During the afternoon of 4th May, more searches were carried out around Vila da Luz and were extended to a radius of approximately 600 metres, including the surroundings of the EN125 in the stretch closed to P da L.

At about 23.00 the extra teams that had been requested for reinforcement arrived (Officer Rosa with Oscar and Officer Martins with Fusco, both from the search and rescue unit and Officer Fernandes with Rex and Zarus from the tracking team).

After the officers had been updated about facts relating to the disappearance, they tried to reconstruct the route the girl might have taken with the two tracker dogs. For this purpose the dogs were given a blanket to sniff, provided by the parents, which had been used by Madeleine.

Beginning to follow the track using Rex, from the door of apartment 5 A (the place where the girl had been sleeping) he would always head in the direction of Block 4, leaving block 5 the dog would turn to the left, pass by a metal access door to a path existing between the apartments blocks to the leisure area (restaurant, pool and playground). Immediately another attempt at reconstruction was made using the dog Zarus, who, in general terms, ended up following the same route as Rex and having the same behaviour.

It is important to state that this tracking work was carried out in an urban area and more than 24 hours after the girl’s disappearance and numerous persons had passed along the path the dogs were tracking. It should also be stated that the path the dogs followed within the resort was practically totally surrounded by walls and the concentration of odours was stronger as they were protected from the wind. The searches finished at about 01.30

On 5th May at about 08.00 after a briefing, two teams consisting of 3 dogs each accompanied by officers from Portimao, again carried out searches in the whole of the Vila da Luz area, with an approximate radius of 2 kilometres, paying special attention to the rocky areas, abandoned houses, wells, drains, road verges etc..including plots of land within P da L.

During part of the afternoon, searches were carried out in the Turiscampo camping site situated next to Espiche on the EN125 and in the Orbitur camping site next to Vila da Luz. This search operation had the objective of checking all the bungalows whose occupants had left on the day of the disappearance or on the following day as well as the adjacent areas.

During the day the searches were extended using the method of searching in file, accompanied by officers from Portimao, from the P da L area following the rocks up to Ponta da Cama da Vaca, taking in all of the northern zone to the EN125 as well as the village of Almadena, the Vale Verde zone and Quatro Estradas, some of the areas had already been searched more than once.

At about 22.00 all the vehicles parked in Vila da Luz parking spaced were checked.

On 6th May at about 08.00 and after another briefing from the Operational Command Post, it was decided that on that day they would again search all the plots of land with thick undergrowth within P da L, but that this time the search sections were divided amongst the teams. For this purpose the same teams of three dogs together with officers from Portimao who had been selected to help using the method of searching in file, carried out searches in all abandoned buildings, wells, rocks, verges of the EN125 and land surrounding P da L, in some cases reaching distances of 2 km.

On 7th May the same searches were continued, being extended to to the entire northern part of Almadena to the site of Espojeiro and the verges of the EN125 until the Boi valley.

At about 19.. the undersigned officer, accompanied by the Commander, Officer Silva, took part in a meetings with the PJ Directorate, being asked by the PJ about the viability of giving the girl’s clothes to the dogs for the dogs to sniff again, and if by means of the odour inhaled, they would be able to mark an identical odour in one of the resort’s apartments even though its door was closed.

With regard to this task, Officer Silva referred to the fact that the time that had passed would be a crucial condition for the dogs’ work in obtaining results and that the entirety of the human odours existing in the apartments and access paths could make the dogs’ searches very difficult. However, in spite of not being a normal situation for tracking, it could be attempted, whilst the operation should be carried out as quickly as possible and not directed towards one but to all the apartments in the resort, it being appropriate for the handler not to know which apartment was chosen, so as not the be conditioned.

In this concrete situation, the objective would be for the dogs to carry out a discontinuous search, in other words, to sniff the girl’s clothes and immediately search near to the apartments, checking to see if there was any change in the behaviour of the dogs.

At about 23.00 accompanied by a PJ inspector, the searches were begun. After Rex was given the girl’s clothing to sniff, he began to search on the ground floor of block 5 and when he passed the door of apartment 5 A (the place the girl had disappeared from) according to his handler, officer Fernandes, the dog altered its behaviour, sniffing with greater intensity than he had done before. Apartment 5J of the same block was also checked as the dog had been more agitated than before as if there were a very strong strange odour there. It was stated that this apartment had been unoccupied for some time. Afterwards, the same kind of search was carried out using the dog Zarus which in general terms showed the same behaviour in the same places as Rex had done.

It was only when all the searches of the apartments in blocks 4 and 5 were complete, that the behaviour described above was registered. It is certain that this kind of work does not correspond to the area that these dogs were trained in, but given that these types of dogs manage to discriminate a specific odour from others, although it could be a remote possibility that they related the odour of the missing girl with a possible location where she could have been.

On 8th May during the morning four teams returned to search all the areas around Vila, following some indications from local people who had frequently gone to the GNR Command post saying they had seen something suspicious related to the disappearance but no sign of her presence was ever found.

During the afternoon searches along the verges of the EN125 were continued from Boi valley to Figueira and the whole northern part of Budens.

On the following days the strategy adopted was to continue to extend the perimeter of the searches to the villages of Barao de S Miguel and Burgau, Barao de S Joao, Bensafrim and Salema. Searches were carried out in all of these locations, as well as adjacent land, vegetation, abandoned houses, wells and main roads.

On 10th May at about 20.10, upon the request of the PJ, searches were carried out in all of the apartments belonging to blocks 4 and 5 of the OC, two tracker dogs and two search and rescue dogs being used for this operation, adopting the same methods as those used on 7th May, just that this time the apartments were all open and searched one by one, being accompanied by a representative from the resort, who had the keys to all the apartments (apart from those not under her administration) and also with the objective of helping with the searches. The collaboration of all the guests occupying the apartments at that time was requested for this purpose and those apartments that were found to be empty were opened by the administrator.

All the apartments were searched by the dogs and when they arrived at apartment 5 J they began to sniff with intensity at the entrance door. During this behaviour it was noted by the PJ officers that there must be some unusual odour, but which with all certainty did not have anything to do with the odour being searched for, but there must have been something strange inside.

After entering the apartment, it was observed that the odour came from close to the fridge, which was open and contained some rotting meat and vegetables.

During the searches carried out in the apartments no sign of the girl was found by the dogs.

On 11th May in the morning, the team went to Odiaxere to visit a forest near the Boavista golf course. The whole forest was searched using the in file method, including some abandoned houses, wells and rail track.

After lunch the team was told that the searches were concluded but that their presence in P da L would continue to be necessary according to the requirements of the PJ for any other situations that might occur.

On 15th May three search and rescue dogs returned to Lisbon (Officer Cortes with Sacha, Officer Rosa with Oscar and Officer Martins with Fusco) considering that there was no longer any need for them.


The other dogs and their handlers remained on site until 18th May when at about 19.00 they returned to Cino/EPG as their presence was no longer require in P da L, although it was determined that if their use were required in the future, they would return.


Signed


30 November 2007

Operation Commander

Major Sequeira
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Post  Info Sat 20 Feb - 10:32

Pages 825-828

Service Information 9 May 2007
To Dr G Amaral
From Vitor Matos, Chief Inspector

Search by GNR dog team

- As you know, yesterday, 8 May 2007 at 23h45, the undersigned joined a search effected by the GNR dog team which targeted Blocks 5 and 4 of the Ocean Club resort and adjacent areas, with the objective of trying to reconstruct the possible route taken by the missing child on 3 May 2007.
- The search was led by GNR 1st Sergeant A.F.Silva, head of the search and rescue team who coordinated all the work done by the "dual track" [method] which was performed by two tracker dogs with their handler, GNR officer P.Fernandes.
- The members of the GNR advised that the tracker dogs are trained to search mainly in rural areas, given the fact that the best capability of the animal is to identify a different and strong smell in a wide, open area, it being sure that in terms of timing they said that after 48 hours from the event it is difficult to obtain positive results. Concerning urban areas, or areas with identical characteristics, they advised that due to the fact of there being a large number of odours in the air, it becomes impossible for the tracker dog to manage to identify/locate the "target smell", because it is diffuse [dispersed; broken up], [the dog] ending up becoming confused and indicating its disinterest in continuing the search.
- Ahead of this type of operation, taking into account the time it is done, as well as the heat [temperature] that is already felt, the results that might be obtained are relative, given that the dog will confirm all the odours that it senses, it being sure that it will seek [track] where they [the smells] are most active, namely where apartments were occupied. Also, any noise [disturbance] the dog perceives inside an apartment could stimulate its interest.
- The GNR team performing the search had in its possession, packed in a plastic bag, a towel supposedly used to clean the missing youngster - Madeleine McCann - furnished by her parents.
- After the conditions for the search are met, the two GNR officers - the leader and the dog handler - gave the scent towel to one of the dogs to smell and led it into Block 5.
- The search started with the dog walking the several floors of the building, always being encouraged by the handler to "seek". It is true that the dog showed most interest at the doors of some apartments while not approaching others. In none of these actions did the dog signal to its handler that it had detected the missing youngster, but it is certain that it showed most interest next to, and around, apartments 5J, 5H and 4G. It is noted that next to 5H there were two bags of rubbish which immediately 'conditioned' the search because the smell was intense and the dog went to check. The opinion of the GNR officers was decisive in affirming that the dog was only checking that strongest odour to try to find the small from the towel.
- Concerning outside 4G there was found a tray of used [dirty] plates, cutlery and cloth napkins, it being sure that it is in this apartment that the parents of the missing child are currently staying. Once again it was the opinion of the GNR team that the dog was 'conditioned' by the small of the food remnants.
- Regarding the interest in 5J, the dog could have been 'conditioned' by the possible presence of people inside, along with a smell that it wanted to confirm at the cracks [gaps] around the door, it being understood from the signals it gave to the handler that it was trying to confirm the presence of the intended [hunted] scent.
- From this search the GNR team members are decisive in affirming that the fact that the dog "signalled" those apartments doe not mean it detected the smell of the missing child, but merely that the strongest odours existed at those specific locations.
- Completing the internal search of Block 5 - the verandas of access to the apartments - and when outside, the dog turned toward [directed itself to] Block 4. However, at the corner of Block 5, it turned left heading for the path between the building and the leisure area - pools and restaurant - going on to turn left [again], i.e. going around the building, setting out for the main street, crossing the road to the wall of Block 6. There, it sniffed the bottom, turned to the right - going down the road - taking itself to the car park next to Block 6 where its search [took it] to a lamppost where it then became confused and stopped the search. According to the GNR team this situation could be due to the fact that the strongest concentration of smells on that path, due to it being a little more preserved from the wind and "protected" between walls, it being certain that when it arrived at the main street and turned to the right, there was a major dispersal of odours, causing the dog to lose interest in continuing the search.
- The second dog was submitted to the same operation, also showing interest at door of 5J, namely it scratched with it front paws at the veranda parapet and lifted its head to sniff the air to find a scent. As noted above, this interest was conditioned by various things, it being certain that the dog sensed a strong odour in that place and wanted to check that [if] he had found the intended scent there.
- After the first search the two rubbish bags were removed from 5H so that during the second one there was no smell of rubbish, and the [second] dog showed no interest at the door of that apartment.
- Outside, the dog immediately followed the same path as the first, taking itself to the car park next to Block 6 where it also lost interest in the search.
- It is true to say that the dogs effectively showed interest in the above-mentioned apartments, without giving an indication needed to their handler that they had [found] the presence of the trail of the missing child. It is also certain that the course that they made to the car park next to Block 6 was done without hesitation and in a most convincing manner.
- To better understand the routes taken by the dogs, there are attached four images/maps of the area of the Ocean Club resort, the route taken by the dogs from Block 5 to the car park being marked in red and yellow.
- Further, in an informal conversation with the GNR team, they advised that on the 4 May they had done the same work, with no control over the direction taken by the dogs, i.e. they were not directed into the buildings, it being certain that they took the same route described above, with the same attitude, losing the trail next to the car park of Block 6.
- According to the GNR team and after the work was finished, they gave their opinion about what had happened, saying it is difficult the be precise about the dogs' achievement given the conditioning factors involved - smells, time of day, area concerned - adding still more the degree of uncertainty, because the clues revealed by the dogs can only be significant by confirming if in an area of intense odour, the intended [hunted; sought after] smell is found.
- Laid bare, in their understanding, the interest demonstrated by the dog at the doors of some apartments can not signify that the scent of the missing child was detected, but solely a mere confirmation and going off track [straying], because it never showed the handler that it had found the intended scent.

This is all I wish to bring your attention.

Chief Inspector
Vitor Matos.
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