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A Taxi Driver Story and The Rogatory Letter Saga

Original Source: JOANA MORAIS: 28 February 2008

28 February 2008 | Posted by Joana Morais


300 DAYS. The round date, on Maddie's disappearance, marked yesterday, did not deserve to Gerry and Kate any special mention in the site, not even in the blog written by the father.

The last entry is of 22.



“I transported that girl”

The driver remembers that he transported them in the night of the disappearance, in the 3rd of May, from the square of taxis of Monte Gordo for the Hotel Apolo, in em Vila Real de Santo Antonio. The passengers went then to a jeep. António contacted the PJ, but, as he says, no one took notice of his story.


A taxi-driver of Vila Real de Santo Antonio, in the Algarve, guarantees to have transported Maddie, Kate McCann and three men – one of them similar to Murat – in the night of the disappearance of the English girl, in the 3rd of May of last year. António Castela Cardoso, 67 years, does not forget the hour or the details of the passengers. He regrets that after having communicated the Judiciary Police of Portimão, he never received a follow up call to explain his statement. Taxi-driver, with 17 years in that profession, António Castela has the habit of memorizing the face of his clients. That one particularly, “She was a girl with very pretty eyes and she called my attention because of the sign that she had in one eye and the twitch that she was doing with the chin”, he remembered. In the beginning of that night, António was in the square of taxis of Monte Gordo, four kilometres of Vila Real de Santo Antonio, was ready to stop the cab service. “It was 20h10 and I like seeing the television news”, he remembers.

Man was similar to Murat

The clients approached and asked him to transport them to the Hotel Apolo, in Vila Real de Santo Antonio. The driver did not refuse. On his side a man seated who was using “fine glasses”. “He was similar with the one that appears in the television like the third suspect”, says António, concerning Robert Murat – who is arguido in the case. In the seat behind, a woman “like Kate” sat down, between two men. The girl that the taxi-driver says to be Maddie sat down to the lap of one of them.
“She was wearing pink pyjamas. The mother had the hair tied and a yellow coat”, he remembers, with exactness. It was a silent journey. The passengers did not exchange one word; they did not show any emotions. On the arrival to the journey destiny, António pulled out the baby's chair of the luggage car. “It was the same as what the couple usually uses”, he affirms. The customers asked him, in English language, how much the cab journey was. “I said that there were 3, 25 euros and they gave me five and then I thanked them”, he says.

Top-of-the-line Jeep

The taxi-driver saw three men, the woman and the child move towards a metallic-blue, top-of-the-line Jeep “ I do not know if it would be a BMW, but I remember that the license plate was yellow and therefore was not a Portuguese one ”, he affirms. The vehicle was parked in the Hotel Apolo parking. António returned to his house with the image of the girl in the head. It reminded him of his son, now with 37 years. “My son was operated to his eyes because he had a similar eye defect. He also did that twitch with the chin. They even looked like brothers”, he observed.
The next day, António was watching the television news besides his son and his granddaughter, with the same age of Maddie. With astonishment he saw that the blond girl of light eyes had disappeared. “I immediately told my son: ' I transported that girl yesterday! ’ ”.
The son, a police officer of the GNR, advised the father to phone to the Judiciary Police of Portimão. “ He (the son) dialled the number and I said what I am telling you (to the journalist of 24 Horas newspaper)”, he remembers to 24horas.
The inspector who answered then asked him if in the hotel there was a system of video vigilance. The taxi-driver did not know.
Up to today, António waits the police contact to give declarations personally. “I defend the girl as I would defend my granddaughter”, he affirms.
Some days later, out of curiosity, António still asked for informations to some of his acquaintances, at the service of the Hotel Apolo. He was told that there was not any reservation for that evening. They also told him that the Hotel had not been contacted by the Judiciary Police. Even worse. The system of video vigilance was damaged two years ago and was not catching any image. “Also I do not know if they did enter in the hotel”, says the taxi-driver.

Since then, António Castela has been accompanying the news on Maddie. When the telephone rings, he still thinks that it will be someone who investigates the case that want to speak with him. When he knew that a certain period of time was still to be explained in the investigation, António Castela immediately thought that this might be the explanation. “In two hours you can travel from Aldeia da Luz to Vila Real de Santo Antonio and return. Someone can be lying. They should establish if Kate did not go away during this period”, says António.

The taxi-driver has been telling this history in public establishments and to clients whom he transports. Only this week a journalist of the “
Jornal do Algarve” contacted him to publish what the driver affirms to have seen. “Now they do not leave me alone. Tomorrow [today] there is a team coming from England on purpose to interview me”, he says.
Madeleine McCann disappeared mysteriously from the Ocean Club, in Aldeia da Luz, in the 3rd of May. 300 days already have passed since. The parents are still arguidos in the process, but up to now nobody managed to know what it went on that night.

From Correio da Manhã: A source connected with the investigation guaranteed that the facts told by António Castela were "investigated" and the “lead was proven false”.

Madeleine has no Twitches

Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for the McCanns, reacted yesterday with amazement at the declarations of the taxi-driver. “The declarations of Mr. Castela are false. They are a perfect nonsense. He can only be mistaken when he says that at that time he transported Kate and Madeleine with three men”, he said, underlining the fact of being several independent witnesses who place Madeleine's parents in a completely different place. “How is that possible, if at 20h35 several witnesses say that Kate and Gerry were sitting down on a table of the Tapas restaurant”, he questioned. Clarence doubts of the intentions of the taxi-driver. “It astonishes me that only now, ten months later, he talks about this. These are declarations that only cause pain to Kate and Gerry", he said, advancing that that the McCann's daughter has no facial twitches.
“The only sign to report is the one she has in the eye.”


The Inspectors of the Judiciary Police are already preparing the suitcases to travel again to Leiceister, where the McCanns and the friends with whom they had dinner with will be questioned again. The team led by Paulo Rebelo finally received green light from England.

English speak again with the Judiciary Police

With the suitcases done, the Judiciary Police is already finalizing with the English authorities the details for, five months after the sending to Great Britain of a rogatory letter, their return to question the McCanns and the friends with whom they had dinner with when Madeleine disappeared, on the 3rd of May, in the Praia da Luz, in Lagos, Algarve.
“The rogatory letter was returned in January to the Public Prosecution Office, for lack of completion of some bureaucratic proceedings. It was remade and then returned to the English Home Office in the beginning of this month. Finally, the letter it’s already in the possession of the Police of Leicester and we are finalizing the details to give completion to the solicitations done by the British authorities”, it explained to 24horas a judicial person in charge connected with the investigations. According to the same source, everything left done is now a mere “schedulement in order that the interrogations are prepared to the friends of the McCann and to the parents of the lost girl themselves, an organized plan that will have to be ended during next week.
In ten days a team of Portuguese investigators will travel to England, they will attend the interrogations, as the interrogations themselves will be done by the police officers of Leicester. “We can only hear, analyse the expressions of the persons and suggest some questions that do not appear in the rogatory letter”. The first persons to be questioned
will be Jane Tanner, David Paine and Russel O'Brien, whose lawyers revealed the intention of their clients to alter their first statements.

Source: Jornal 24 horas
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