EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT MURAT
Algarve resident Robert Murat says his lawyer is dealing with the matter. Photo: MARK RAWCLIFFE - ALGARVE RESIDENT
‘The whole thing is daft. I am so angry’
Robert Murat reacts to a press report claiming Madeleine McCann’s body is buried in his backyard
By INÊS LOPES firstname.lastname@example.org
In an exclusive interview with the Algarve Resident today (July 5), Robert Murat says he is “very angry” that news is circulating that a South-African researcher claims Madeleine McCann’s body is buried in the backyard of the house where his mother lives in Praia da Luz.
According to Correio da Manhã (CM) daily newspaper, Stephen Birch, who says he is “passionate” about the mystery surrounding Madeleine’s disappearance, entered the property four times during the night, around two weeks ago, to search its backyard using georadar equipment.
The man claims the machine detected movement and alteration in the subsoil and collected images that he says he has passed on to the UK’s Scotland Yard and the Portuguese Polícia Judiciária.
Birch told the Correio da Manhã that images collected detected that “an object” had been buried in the backyard “60 centimetres underground”. The data was allegedly analysed by a specialist who confirmed the probable presence of something in that location.
The South-African researcher told the newspaper that he believed that Madeleine was buried there.
However, Robert Murat said: “Every single part of the house, inside and out, was checked in 2007 by more than 20 police officers, who found absolutely nothing. They used Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) equipment, which was brought by a Civil Protection team, to search the grounds of the property and the area surrounding Casa Liliana.”
Former PJ inspector Gonçalo Amaral, who was involved in the Madeleine investigation in the beginning, told CM that the PJ’s searches of the house had been “thorough”.
Murat, who hasn’t lived at the house “for years”, said his mother Jenny, who is 76 years old, is feeling very uncomfortable in her own home. “Her privacy is being invaded again,” he said. “She is distraught and I am very angry. My lawyers are dealing with this.”
Referring to the photographs published by Correio da Manhã, which show Birch in Jenny Murat’s garden, Robert said he didn’t think there was any way the man could have entered the property as his mother has two large Serra da Estrela dogs that are kept outside as guard dogs.
Murat’s lawyer, Francisco Pagarete, told the Algarve Resident: “We are unsure as to the veracity of those photographs.”
When asked if his client would be suing Stephen Birch for unlawful entry to his mother’s property or for his claims, the lawyer said: “We are currently analysing the news report.”
Robert Murat concluded: “I don’t expect anybody to be on my side, I just want the truth,”
Birch told CM that while in Praia da Luz, he monitored the property “24 hours a day”, with the help of two “collaborators”, and when the house was vacated he would enter and search the backyard with the georadar equipment.
«A Civil Protection vehicle exiting Murat’s property during police searches of the house in May 2007
Photo: MARK RAWCLIFFE - ALGARVE RESIDENT
The man says he does not want to “make accusations” as his sole objective is to find the location where the body was buried as it will be “easier to solve the case”.
Despite his alleged findings at the property, Birch is quoted in CM as saying that he doesn’t believe Murat or his relatives are involved in the disappearance of Madeleine. “Anyone could have had access to the property,” he told the newspaper.
In the CM report, Gerry and Kate McCann’s lawyer in Portugal, Rogério Alves, is said to be following the latest developments closely and admitted he may request the reopening of the case.
The police authorities have allegedly received the data collected by Stephen Birch.
Madeleine McCann disappeared from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3 2007, a few days before turning four.
Robert Murat became the first arguido, or official suspect, in the investigation of the Madeleine McCann case after a British journalist reported to the police that his behaviour during the initial stages of the search was suspicious. Murat, fluent in English and Portuguese, had offered his help as translator to the Portuguese authorities.
In 2008, Murat saw his status of arguido dropped by the Portuguese authorities.
Murat has always claimed to have had no involvement whatsoever in the British toddler’s disappearance and that his life has been turned upside down by the case.
In November 2008, the former arguido was awarded undisclosed libel damages from British Sky Broadcasting Ltd following a video and article posted on the Sky News website. Prior to this, Robert Murat had received 600,000 pounds sterling following allegations in more than 100 articles in various publications in the UK.
Once again, the Algarve resident sees his name splashed across the national and international press and all of his hopes of some form of normalcy in his life have now been dashed again.