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Robert Murat to sue South African man for trespassing

Original Source:  ALGARVE RESIDENT: 12 JULY 2012
By INÊS LOPES Updated: 12-Jul-2012
A Civil Protection vehicle exiting Murat’s property during police searches of the house in May 2007. Photo: MARK RAWCLIFFE -ALGARVE RESIDENT

Robert Murat suing South African researcher, who claims Madeleine’s body is buried in his backyard, for trespassing

In an exclusive interview with the Algarve Resident on July 5, Robert Murat said he was “very angry” that news was 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 a report in Correio da Manha (CM) daily newspaper on the same day of our interview, Stephen Birch, who says he is “passionate” about the mystery surrounding Madeleine’s disappearance, entered the property four times during the night, around three 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 CM 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 buried in that location.


However, experts commenting on the report say it is impossible to know what it is.


The South-African researcher told the Portuguese press last week that he believed it was Madeleine that was buried there 

Robert Murat says his lawyer is dealing with the matter. Photo: MARK RAWCLIFFE -ALGARVE RESIDENT


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 Manha, 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 on Wednesday: “We are suing Mr Stephen Birch for the unlawful entry into private property.”


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.


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.


A video showing Stephen Birch using a georadar machine, allegedly in the garden of Casa Liliana, is now circulating the web, including on YouTube.


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.


Madeleine’s parents, who claim never to have met Stephen Birch, said they would like to see the Portuguese authorities act on Birch’s findings.


The Portuguese and British authorities have allegedly received the data collected by Stephen Birch however, the former haven’t yet acted on the information.


The background


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 (read Algarve Resident edition of November 14, 2008).


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.


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.


Madeleine ‘is alive’


In the UK, the press has been reporting on the claims of a former Met detective who says there is a “good chance” that Madeleine McCann may be alive.


Ian Horrocks, who has visited Praia da Luz and the resort where Madeleine vanished, said he examined the police files on the case and believes it is “unlikely a paedophile ring murdered or kidnapped Madeleine” and rules out the involvement of Madeleine’s parents.


The former Scotland Yard detective told The Sun newspaper: “I do believe that when all the available information is examined logically and objectively, that Madeleine was taken by someone who wanted her as part of his or their family.”


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