Blogging from Praia da Luz, Algarve

This page is closed to posting, but still open to comments, as I have left Praia da Luz and I'm on my way to Lisbon. Another page is open, to allow a follow-up: "Gazeta Digital - MMcCan's Abduction"


(*) - May 17, 2007 - I'll write only in English, from now on. This is no more a national issue, not even a British/Portuguese issue. And almost every Portuguese over 13 years old and less than 50 has a very reasonable command of English. Another reason is that even if I can go on working with a few hours of sleep, I can’t do it without sleeping at all…


(05:00 pm, May 24 - 2007) - More than 48 hours without posting!!!! The previous post is the copy of an email I sent, yesterday, to my mailing list. I have my laptop working, a new windshield for my helmet, and I will leave to Lisbon within 15 minutes. First thing I will do (after seeing my son and my family) is to say goodbye to Mr. Bill Gates and change my laptop to a Macintosh. Thank's to all of you, for your emails, your support, your help, your tips - some of them precious for my work!!! -your visits to my page and your friendship, if I may say that. Tis will be my last post at "Blogging from Praia da Luz". I will open a new page, soon: "Blogging about Madeleine's Abduction". See you soon.

(10:40 pm, May 23 - 2007) - I'm 100 km from Lagos. The windshield of my helmet is broken. A small stone, perhaps, I don't know, exactly. It broke, suddenly, while I was driving back home. I can't continue. I just finished diner at a small restaurant near the main road to Lisbon. I’ll look for a place to stay and will travel to Lisbon tomorrow morning, after buying a new helmet. My portable is still half-dead. I can’t download, I can’t upload, sometimes I can access my Gmail, other times I can’t. I’ll look for a small and cheap hotel, I’ll take a bath and go to sleep.
When I left Praia da Luz, Madeleine’s parents had just returned from Fatima and Michaela, Murat’s girlfriend and her ex-husband went out from police headquarters at Portimão. There was no change in their situation; they are just witnesses in this case. So, nothing really new, as far as I know. But I’ve been cut from the “information highway” for a couple of hours, watched no TV, and didn’t listen to the radio (impossible do it while driving a Honda CB /500….). The restaurant where I am doesn’t have TV. Must be the only one, in all Portugal. I had to call my father to ask who won the match Liverpool-AC Milan.
Somebody put a spell on me, today. Perhaps a few of those British journalists I criticized so strongly asked to a good “voodoo” priest for a “service” against me. That’s the only explanation I can find.
One last detail, before I say goodnight to all of you. I left Praia da Luz and droved four km to a gas station, near the road to Lisbon. The employee, a smiling Brazilian, asked me from where I was coming. “Praia da Luz”, I answered. “Oh, yes?”- He said, with a subtle touch, meaning: “And what have you been doing there?”. I told him I was a journalist and spent a couple of days reporting from there.
It was the key to open his mouth. “Caramba!” – He said (an expression, in Portuguese, close to “Damned!” In English. “Anything new about Roberto?” He was asking me about Robert Murat, “translating” his British name to Portuguese. “Such a nice guy, so polite, always very kind… This was the gas station he used to come.”
I noticed he was talking in the past. So, Robert Murat used to go there but, obviously, he has been absent for a couple of days.
“And ‘Sérgio’, also, this was the place were he came to fill his tank”. He guessed, before I could ask the question: “But they never came together! I never saw them together.” Clever guy.
“Look!” – He said, pointing to pump nº 3. “That’s the place where ‘Roberto’ always stopped. And that,” – pump nº 4 – “is where ‘Sérgio’ used to come”. Ok. Final detail for my farewell to this report at Praia da Luz, Lagos, Algarve. Took a picture of the gas station, paid my bill and started what I thought would be a quiet return back home. See you tomorrow. I hope!

(09:55 pm – May 22, 200) - I have a new page, with all pictures I have taken here, at Praia da Luz. They were posted with printing quality and can be freely used and/or reproduced, following the conditions stated in the “Copyright -Warning”.


(17:24, May 22 – 2007) – Long absence, this one. Only thing I posted at my page, yesterday, was the comment (a "no comments!" comment…) from Police, about a new house search and a possible new suspect. I was at my physical limit, went to bed and slept until 12:00 am today. A quick update and preview about a couple if things I’ll post, in the next two hours: news, pictures and video from today’s Press Conference of Madeleine’s parents (at 02:40), Portuguese Press headlines and news from yesterday and today, a report with a general view of what happened these last 48 hours and what I’ve been doing (apart from sleeping). Main points about what Madeleine’s parents told:

- Tomorrow they are going , early in the morning, to Fátima, a well known place of pilgrimage for Catholics, to pray for Madeleine’s safe return;
- They are receiving the same amount of information, from Portuguese Police, as they would receive from the British Police, if Madeleine had been abducted in the UK;
- They will not hire privates investigators and they trust the investigation conducted by Portuguese Police with the help of British Police;
- Mr. McCann hired a manager for dealing with the financial fund resulting from the donations to Madeleine’s search;
- May be they travel to other European countries, soon, in order to keep Madeleine’s case on the public eye;
- They don’t know if Madeleine is still in Portugal or not, so they want the search to be high in the public interest, in other countries;

So, I hope I’m forgiven for this long silence. Human body has its limits. Be back soon.

Ps: There is a Press Room, in an apartment of Ocean Club. It’s a little bit crowded and this is me, at my “working desk". Blurred my face, just because I’ve been working on a good story, more or less “undercover”, for the past seven months, and it’s better that my face is not known, for now.


(oo:55 am, May 21, 2007) – Found what I am almost sure is the “Russian Fortress” police has searched today. Took some time, and after I had to find a place to connect my portable, as it was almost without battery. I’ll post some details soon.

(09:35 pm, May 20, 2007) – Found somebody who knows where is the “Russian fortress”! It’s close by the small restaurant where I am writing this post. I’ll be there in a few minutes. Just a quick description: high walls, nobody knows the people who lives there, they just see luxury cars coming in and out – among them a Dodge Viper. It seems that the reference to armed security guards the newspaper published it’s not correct. There is an area just close the “Russian fortress” where a construction company is preparing a large touristy project. The area has a lot of pine trees and, according to my source – and saviour… - the private security company is there just to prevent fires, patrolling the area in four-wheeled mottos

(09:25 pm, May 20 2007) - For a couple of hours, I’ve been in the outskirts of Benagil, a small village five miles from Lagoa. Police has been searching the house of a Russian, who may have some relation with Sergei Malinka. The house, according to news from Diário de Notícias, is a fortress, whit high walls, barbed wire, dogs and armed guards. Benagil is not even a village, just a couple of houses on the top of a hill and a small road, but in the surrounding area, there are hundreds of country houses, spreading over the hills. Finding the “Russian fortress” is not an easy task and I’ve been driving around for hours, stopping at small restaurants and bars, asking local people if they know anything about it. Until now, I got no indication about that. It’s almost dark and soon I will have to go back to Praia da Luz and try to finish the second part of my “Special Report”. Ill try for one more hour and then I will return to Praia da Luz. This is the main reason for my “silence” during all the day. Other reason is the fact that I finished the first part o my report around 6:00 am and I slept until 11:00 o’clock. After lunch and a quick reading of today’s newspapers, I came to Benagil. I’m afraid for nothing…

(04:08 am, May 20 2007) - Just finished Part-I of the "Special Report" about Madeleine's abduction and will post it in a few minutes. It has been a bad day (and night…). I have to write standing up, with the window opened, the computer half-way out of the window, to get a good connection to the Net. But my portable got very hot, after so many hours working and turned off. I put it inside the fridge, for 20 minutes, and it worked! I'm preparing now Part II and III. Don't ask me when I'll post it…Just be sure that I will post it.

(10:48 pm, May 19 2007) – As I said before, posting of my “Special Report” about Madeleine’s abduction will have a short delay, because I had to go out several times, this afternoon, to make some contacts. Also, the coffee-shop where I’m working will close in a few minutes, so I have to go to my rented room and finish it there. Again, my apologies for the delay.

(05:20, May 19 2007) – I already published a summary of the headlines and news about Madeleine’s abduction, from today’s Portuguese Press – May 19 –. Pictures of all front pages from the two national weeklies and four national dailies are also available. Today, I had time to do some investigations. I have a couple of news and I will publish, within 3/4 hours, a “Special Report” about Madeleine’s abduction. I'm writing it, now, at a small "café", where everybody is watching the final match of England's Cup, between Chelsea and Manchester United. I wish both could win, because the biggest stars of this game are Portuguese - Cristiano Ronaldo and José Mourinho! Just a detail: There are eleven persons here, and only three are Portuguese - inclunding the owner. All the others are British (My God! Rooney has just missed an easy goal...but Chelsea's goalkeeper was superb!)

(10:00 am, May 19 2007) – I wake up at 8:30, turned the computer on an checked the news. Correio da Manhã, a leading daily Portuguese newspaper, has a story about Sergei Malinka phone calls to Robert Murat around 11.30 pm, the night Madeleine was abducted. I posted it at my page, as a “Breaking News”. Time for going out for breakfast, buying newspapers and try to finish some of the work I left from yesterday, as I spend two hours waiting outside the Praia da Luz Church, where a ceremony was held, with the presence of Madeleine’s parents.

(01:20 am, May 19 2007) – Just published the two pictures. I’ll go to sleep, now. My working list is pilling up: finish translation of main headlines of Portuguese Press from the last two days, finish the selection of “The ‘best’ of the worst reports and comments of Media about Madeleine McCann abduction (British and Portuguese…) and a few more. Now, I need some rest. I’ll be back in seven or eight hours.

(01:09 am, May 19 2007) – I will have two new pictures posted in a few minutes, from outside the church, with a group of photographers and cameramen taking images of the McCann couple. The church is in the middle of a small hill, so they went out, turned right and walked to the car. I was just two meters from them. Couldn’t take a good picture. I can’t find the words in English do describe Madeleine's mother eyes. In Portuguese, I would say her eyes show a soul that is empty. She’s a shadow of the woman I remember to see, in the first pictures that were published, the day after Madeleine disappeared. There’s no justice in earth or hell enough to punish people who is responsible for doing this. I don’t defend death penalty. If a mistake is made, there is no way to correct it. But European countries must start to reflect about life sentences for child kidnappers and abusers. In Portugal, maximum jail time is 25 years. Short time, for those that inflict so much suffering and pain to others. There should is no pardon, there should be no “rehabilitation” to these kind of people. They must be put on jail and left there until they die.

(00:28 am, May 19 2007) – I left “Igreja da Luz” (Luz Church) around 11:45 pm. The candle vigil and the religious ceremony started at 9:30 pm and ended at 11:30. A lot of journalists, waiting outside – I think I have a good picture, from the top of a wall, behind them – not many people inside the church. Madeleine’s mother face shows the hell she going through. Nobody can help her. Nothing can help her, unless her child is found. I’ll post a few details, in a few minutes, about what I saw and heard outside the church. Journalist kept a reasonable distance from McCann couple, when they left the church. Now I will prepare some pictures to publish. Took me some time to find a place in my room where I can be connected to the Net. I’m standing up, with the window open, my portable computer on a precarious balance, to be able to post. Not the best working conditions…

(20:25, May 18 2007) – I’m working hard on the translation of the main headlines of Portuguese Press. I hope to have it online after the candle vigil dedicated to Madeleine, at 09:00 pm, tonight. A friend sent me an email today because of my post where I talked about Hitler, British newspapers and the ideas of race superiority. He thinks it was excessive to write that some British media seem to be under the influence of Alfred Rosenberg’s ideas. Perhaps. May be it’s more correct to say that some British Media seem to be under the influence of Hendrik Verwoerd ideas, when they reported about Portuguese police investigation of Madeleine abduction. Time to dinner, now. I hope I can fulfil my promise of coming back soon to posting.

(*) – I believe my English is not bad, but I’m sure I have a couple of mistakes and some phrases that could be written in a better way. Please, feel free to email me with corrections and suggestions how to improve my English. Thank you.

(07:00 pm, May 18 2007) – Took me longer than I thought to post again, since this morning. I’ll start with a very serious subject: I saw a comment at CrimeBlog.US , from “debk”, who wrote “I haven’t yet found any reliable written Portuguese (or English) source about Barra da Costa’s comment that dogs found traces of Madeleine at Murat’s house… or anywhere else”. I quoted Mr Barra da Costa yesterday, in a breaking news bulletin (“A police dog found traces of Madeleine McCann at Murat's house”) posted at Gazeta Digital.

Let me make one thing very clear: I watched the news and heard the words of Mr. Barra da Costa. I wasn’t the only witness of this interview. Around 1, 2 million Portuguese viewers (average number of viewers of “Telejornal”, main news of RTP) heard Mr. Barra da Costa saying that “a police dog found traces of the missing girl near the swimming pool of Robert Murat’s house”.
I have a link to RTP page, where they have the full video of main news (“Telejornal”). This afternoon, I talked with Mr. Barra da Costa, but he just told me that he had no comments about nothing for any journalist, as he says he was misquoted on a previous interview, also in TV. In that interview, he said that “there is information that the (McCann) couple was an adept of ‘swing’, meaning sexual relations among couples”.

It seems that I was the only one who quoted the remark of Mr. Barra da Costa about the dog finding traces of Madeleine at Murat’s house. Mr. Barra da Costa is a former CID inspector, criminologist and academic, and a very regular presence at TV stations, to comment on crime cases. Why nobody quoted him on this subject? I don’t know. But if somebody has any doubt about the accuracy of my quote, just take a look at “Telejornal”, in the RTP page (if they understand Portuguese).

If not, call any phone number in Portugal. Chances are that every three phone calls, you will find one Portuguese that watches with regularity RTP “Telejornal”. As most Portuguese under 50 years can speak fairly good English, you can confirm what Mr. Barra da Costa said. Or just tell me you don’t believe my information was accurate. I’ll get a copy of “Telejornal”, translate it to English, get an official certification of the translation at the British Embassy, and I’ll send that translated copy to whoever has those doubts.

(09:47 am, May 18) - Just two more details: found this poster of Madeleine at supermarket Batista. Should have been one of the first posters asking for help. I’ve been among the British journalists, near the Ocean Club. I’ll go there, again, in a few minutes. I wonder how they will react – and I’m most curious about Mr. Martin Brunt reaction – once they discover I’m the guy who has been criticising them so strongly…

(09:17 am, May 18) - – Last night, after two hours trying to reach Mr. Barra da Costa on his mobile phone, I went for a walk in Praia da Luz, looking for a cash point. I’ve been in Algarve before – my mother is from Portimão – but this is my first time in Praia da Luz. We are far from the peak season, but it’s possible to realize that this not Ibiza or Torremolinos. Tourism, here, seems to be family oriented, with a lot of middle-aged and old British couples. And calling it a small village it’s not correct. It’s much bigger than a small village. I’ll try to get local authorities today, to ask them the area, number of residents and house units of Praia da Luz “freguesia” – something similar to a British boroughs (*). Around midnight there very few open places, just three or four “esplanadas” – those bars with tables at open air.

I had the opportunity to watch a few British men, in their 50’s, with their wife’s, on the verge of starting one of UK preferred hobby – punching each other after a couple of beers. But the decisive intervention of their wife’s stopped the brawl before it began.
Yesterday, May 17, I went to several “cafés” – a national Portuguese institution, like the French “bistrot”. A “café” is a place where families go, to have a coffee – obviously… - an ice cream for the kids, to read newspapers, and to talk with other customers. Talking is always around football, the lousy Government we have, last gossips from TV stars and politics.

Madeleine’s abduction is the main subject of conversation, now. I was at three different “cafés” and at all of them, I found people that knew Robert Murat. The opinion about him was always the same: nice guy, don’t believe he has anything to do with it. But, there was always a “but”.
We had – and still have, because the trial is going on - a high profile case of paedophilia, the so called “Casa Pia case”. The accused are a sample of Portugal’s elite: among others, an ambassador, Jorge Ritto, who hold one of the most important jobs in the Portuguese diplomacy (head of our representation with the Portuguese-Chinese Joint-Liaison Group, a diplomatic body set up by Portugal and China to oversee the handover of Macau to China, in 1999); Mr. Carlos Cruz, a TV host and entertainer known in Portugal as Mr. TV. Writing about TV in Portugal, for the last 40 years (since the end of the 60’s) it’s impossible without mentioning his name a dozen times.

So, the “but…” that people with whom I talked referred, after giving the best opinion about Robert Murat, has some relation with this case. “Well he (Robert Murat) is a nice guy, I don’t’ believe he is involved in the abduction of Madeleine”, a middle-aged Portuguese who knows him well, told me. “But, nobody could believe when Carlos Cruz was arrested….”

About SM, the young Russian computer expert, he was a 14 years old boy when he came to Praia da Luz. Yesterday, also, I was at a small “café” in the supermarket Batista, typing in my portable, and three ladies – a British living here for more than 15 years, who calls herself half-British, half-Portuguese, and two Portuguese ladies – were talking about he case and what the journalists were writing.
I made myself part of the conversation, and the British lady told me she knew SM, the young Russian, quite well. “He is 22 years old, not 33, as newspapers have put it. He is a nice, well-behaving boy, never left Praia da Luz, since he came here, eight years ago”, she said. She knows Robert Murat and her brother is a friend of him. “Now, I’m afraid that my brother may be involved in this case… Everyone who knows him may be questioned by the Police, it’s frightening”.

I will go out, now, for breakfast, a look at the place where journalists are waiting for news, a few pnone calls, some Net search, and I will be back posting soon.

(07:00 pm, May 17) – Back to work, after a couple of hours of sleep and a quick (and late…) lunch. I rented a small room at Praia da Luz, 50 meters from Ocean Resort. Near the building where Madeleine was abducted, nothing new, as you can see from the pictures: journalists waiting and all the related TV paraphernalia. Just checked my RSS and found nothing substantially new. Around midday, before leaving the area near Ocean Resort to look for a room, had a very interesting talk with three persons – all ladies, one British and the others Portuguese. Praia da Luz is a very small place, and they know very well the Russian computer expert that Polícia Judiciária was questioning, yesterday. The British lady, living in here for more than 15 years, knows him since he arrived in Portugal, a 14-year old boy. "he is 22 years old", she told me, "not 30, as the Press has been saying". I’ll give some details about this chat, later.

  • (06h55, 17 de Maio) - Estou a cerca de de 12 quilómetros da Praia da Luz. Dentro de cerca de 15/20 minutos estarei no local. A partir de agora, tenciono "postar" aqui com regularidade ou sempre que haja novas informações.

  • Cheguei ao Ocean Club, na Praia da Luz, por volta das 8:30. Muitos jornalistas, câmaras de televisão, carros de apoio, à espera de tirar algumas imagens do casal McCann e dos seus gémeos, no seu passeio matinal – uma rotina que é seguida à distância pelos jornalistas, com a preocupação de não perturbar excessivamente o sossego da família. Tirei algumas fotografias, que coloquei online. Vou tentar saber se há novidades.

  • (06h55 – 17 de Maio) I’m at a gas station, near Lagos, 12 km from Praia da Luz. I’ll be there within 15/20 minutes. From now on, I’ll post here every with regularity or always I get new information.

  • (09:03 am) – Arrived at Ocean Club at 8:30 am. A lot of journalists, TV equipment, waiting for news and for the daily walk of McCann family. They keep a reasonable distance, in order to allow them some peace and tranquillity – if it is possible, for a family that is going through a living hell like this. Just took some pictures of the journalist waiting and put it online. I traveled from Lisbon at night, arrived in Algarve around 5:00 am, and didn’t have time to check with my contacts if there is something new.

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Tj said...

thank you Paulo! :) your information is appreciated :)

lisaR said...

way to go Paulo...well done.
Great have some insight from someone actually there.
thank you, lets hope she is found asap...

piglet said...

Paulo - Excellent Job ! You have and I am positive will continue to provide with excellent, honest information.You are appreciated

Tj said...

Paulo- you ROCK!!! thank you!!! :)

Sonia said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to keep us posted. You are such a great person and professional.
I am starting to feel a certain despair...I am afraid Maddy is no longer with us. I hope I am wrong.

maria josé said...

Thank you Paulo for your excellent work!

Tj said... have defenders...

maria josé said...


I heard it!!!!

maria josé said...

Thank you Paulo!!!

very good job!

What about Mr. Martin Brunt ???
Have you seen him??

maria josé said...

an children was found in Vial Real de Sº Antonio. Not maddy .
An Roumanian came from Spain to Portugal.
I heard it in SIC (tv)

Ana said...

Hi Paulo!

Thank you for the new information update.
Are you sure that the parents are not gonna hire any private detectives?? I thought they would. It would be an additional help. Also do you have any updates about the sighting of Madeleine in Morocco? Thank you!

Nicola said...

You are doing a brilliant are very much appreciated..
please keep us informed soon..missed reading your updates..
hope you are safe and well
God Bless You

maria josé said...

Thank you Paulo!
You seem a detective too!:)

Paulo Reis said...

Quick answer to several comments and questions: I've seen Martin Brunt, but we didn't talked. British and Portuguese journalists were togheter but separated - we didn't had coffe at the same table. About Madeleine's parents not hiring private investigators, check the quotations from Mr McCann Pres Conference, ha said it wouldn't be useful and he trusted Portuguese Police investigation.
Maria José, a journalist's work and a detective work are very, very similar. The only difference is that we publish the infornation we get, detectives send it to the Public Prosecuter's Office.

maria josé said...

I know Paulo! I was only joking :)

Sonia said...

These McCanns are just unbelievable. So, now, they think they are "above the Law". The fact that G&K's lack of common sense caused their daughter to be abducted and probably killed, gives the family the right to do whatever they want to, wherever they want to, without asking permission to any kind of authority. Great. Frankly, I am sick and tired of looking at their faces. Poor Maddie.