ANALYSIS - Why did Robert Murat have encrypted material on his computer? PLUS: The key found in Murat's house...the secret 'golf Club meeting' - and more
ANALYSIS - Why did Robert Murat have encrypted material on his computer? PLUS: The key found in Murat's house...the secret 'golf Club meeting' - and more
J. Other problems with Murat’s account of events
We have summarised the 17 changes of Murat’s story. Here we shall just pick out a few other queries raised by Murat’s two, highly contradictory accounts.
If one reads the police witness statement of Jorge da Silva (made on 16 May 2007, two day after Murat was pulled in for questioning) - the person whom Murat met several times on 1, 2 and 3 May - it is hard to get an accurate picture of what Murat, da Silva and his two sons were all talking about. True, it is said they discussed Murat’s proposed ‘Romigen’, but exactly what they discussed is not made clear. Murat claims that at around 4.00pm on 2 May he and his lawyer Fracisco Pagarete met da Silva and one of his sons in a bar near the Marina - but da Silva does not confirm this.
One observer wrote: “Jorge da Silva’s statement reads to me as though he was bemused and bewildered by the attention he and his son were getting from Robert Murat and Michaela”. On one occasion he said Murat had asked him to attend a meeting, at the Golf Club, and then Murat didn’t offer to get him any food.
It looks almost as if da Silva was being pressurised into attending those meetings with Murat and his lawyer. One suggestion advanced by some is that Murat’s real purpose was to meet a number of important people but wished to hide their identity; hence da Silva was ‘in tow’ so that Murat, if asked, could claim that he had only been meeting with da Silve to discuss ‘Romigen’.
Another curiosity is why the Portuguese Police did not apparently make enquires about the anonymous ‘builder from Lisbon’ who was supposed to attend the Golf Club meeting, but didn’t.
Another matter we need to note is that Murat and his girlfriend Michaela Walczuk both, separately, made statements to the Portuguese police on 14 May. Yet several days later, Walczuk went to the police station, apparently of her own free will, to make another statement, with various ‘corrections’ and ‘clarifications’ to her original statement. It would not be unfair to suggest the possibility that after they had made their respective statements, they met, conferred, and realised that in certain key respects, their stories did not tally.
Also, why did Murat first make the ridiculous claim that Dr Pagarete met him and Michaela sitting in his mother’s VW Transporter? He later had to replace that tale by stating that, instead, he had met members of the da Silvas family at that time.
Murat and Michaela Walczuk, indeed, had made a real hash of remembering what they did on the all-important date of Thursday 3 May. Murat says he went to Michaela’s and they had ‘talked in her apartment until noon’. But Walczuk said, instead, that a person called ‘Catia’ had been there, apparently to talk about a project called ‘Montinho da Ouro’, translated as ‘Gold Bunker’, and that then she and Murat had travelled to meet Malinka at Batista’s supermarket café.
Altogether, for example, there were three wholly different accounts of where Murat and Walczuk had lunch that day.
To the simple question: ‘Where did you have lunch that day?’, there were three different answers:
Murat said: ‘With Michaela at the Galp service station on the motorway’.
Michaela said: ‘We had lunch with the da Silvas at the Restaurant Antonio at Porto Mos’…
…while Jorge da Silva said: ‘They took me to a Golf Club for a meeting and I didn’t get any lunch at all’.
In her second statement, Michaela told the police that she now remembered that she and Murat had had lunch at the Galp service station after all. She had fallen into line with Murat’s story.
Michaela Walczuk’s claim of attending a Jehovah’s Witness meeting on the evening of 3 May
At this point we will look briefly at one other controversial matter, namely Michaela Walczuk’s claim that on the evening of 3 May she was at a Jehovah’s Witness meeting.
Michaela Walczuk claimed that from around 6.30pm to 8.30pm on 3 May, she was attending a Jehovah’s Witness (JW) congregation in Lagos de Baia. She is careful, however, in her second statement to the police to make clear that whilst she attends the assemblies, she no longer takes part in what are called the ‘congregational classes’. She explained that because she had ‘betrayed’ her husband in her affair with Robert Murat, she had not been practising the religious principles of her faith.
She claimed that the JW meeting lasted from 6.30pm to nearly 8.30pm. She then goes on to say that she did not on this occasion stay behind to talk to other members as she usually did. She says she left ‘without speaking to anyone’. She said that the reason was because she had her young daughter with her and had to leave early because it was ‘a school night’.
If it was an assembly she attended and not a class, and if - as Michaela implies - she left without talking to anyone, it would be hard for the police to confirm whether Michaela was present or not.
In her second statement (but not her first), she told police: “For about three years, I attended the assemblies, but did not take part in the congregation, only because I had betrayed my husband, which is not compatible with the Biblical principles that I profess”. Michaela said that her husband Luis Antonio had also attended JW meetings in Lagos, along with Teofila and Marina Castel.
Michaela also pointed out that during Murat’s translation work at the Ocean Club, he met a couple called Teofilo and Marina Castela. Teofilo is the Administrative Services Manager at the Ocean Club. Both Murat and Michaela know the couple as they belong to the same JW group in Lagos. In her statement Michaela says she knows of other JWs working at the Ocean Club.
But Teofilo Castela, in November 2007, challenged parts of Michaela’s statement about attending the meeting. His account was reported in the Evening Standard. The report said that Castela had stated that Michaela Walczuk had been ‘thrown out of the congregation’, though he didn’t say why. He added that the police hadn’t interviewed him. Significantly, he added: “She was cast aside. It was before this year . The church has certain rules and they must not be broken”.
But, strangely, neither Teofila Castela nor his wife Marina (who was in charge of the Ocean Club’s Hygiene and Comfort Department) mentioned any of this in their original statements to police in May. Marina Castela’s duties included handling the keys to the apartments, including that of Apartment 5A where the McCanns were staying.
Joao Olim Junior, who worked for Walczuk's husband Luis Antonio, made a statement to the police. He was in charge of a company vehicle on the night Madeleine disappeared. Olim was also a JW and said he attended the ‘Bible meeting’ on the evening of 3 May. He mentions Michaela several times by name in his statement but does not confirm that she was present that evening. Whether Michaela Walczuk did attend that meeting is still therefore very much in doubt. Was she somewhere else that evening?
The da Silvas
In view of the importance of the da Silva family in the various rounds of meetings Robert Murat had between Tuesday 1 May and Thursday 3 May, there has been interest in Murat’s connections with that family. Several other individuals with the surname ‘da Silva’ were contacted by the Portuguese Police in their enquiries.
Marina Castela (see above) gave a detailed witness statement in which she explained that the person responsible for cleaning Apartment 5A was an employee called Maria Julia Serafim da Silva. There has been speculation that she might be related to the da Silva father and sons whom Murat was so anxious to meet (as we have seen above) as soon as he returned to Praia da Luz in the early hours of Tuesday 1 May.
Another witness with the surname da Silva - Maria Manuela Martins da Silva - said was visiting the sister of her boyfriend in another Ocean Club apartment (Block 6, Apartment 5) during the afternoon and evening of 3 May. From the ground floor kitchen window of that apartment, there was a direct view across to the back windows of the apartment occupied by Madeleine McCann [Source: Police Files 02 - Processos Volume II, Pages 469 to 470a].
Unusually, some five days later, Maria was able to recall the exact time she left that apartment - 9.58pm. She says she remembers the exact time because she asked her friend the time, and she responded after checking this on the telephone in the lounge. Maria da Silva left with her boyfriend in a green Opel Frontera, parked in the private parking area of Block 6. As they drove away, she recalled seeing a small car, perhaps grey in colour, parked close to the window of the McCann apartment. By coincidence the route taken by GNR officer, Pedro Miguel Esteves Fernandes and the Search & Rescue dogs in the early hours of 4 May, lost track of Madeleine's scent in the private parking area of Block 6.
The following da Silvas are noted in the Portuguese Police files:
· Maria Julia Serafim da Silva - responsible for cleaning Apartment 5A - and supervised by Marina Castela
· JJorge Manuel da Silva - Businessman and shop owner that Murat and Walczuk meet with at golf club for several hours on the afternoon of May 3rd and elsewhere at other times
· Maria Manuela Martins da Silva - staying with the sister of boyfriend in Apartment Block 6 of the Ocean Club
· Celeste Da Conceicao Antao da Silva - A cleaner at the Ocean Club, Celeste is the first to report that there had been a spate of burglaries in the resort
· Joquim Silva - A member of the 100-strong Jehovah's Witness congregation, who did not confirm Michaela Walczuk's claim of aAttendance a JW meeting on the night of 3 May. He is featured in a report by the Evening Standard.
The key found in the Murats’ home
A key, which some feel could be important in the case, was found in ‘Casa Liliana’, the Murats’ home. It was the key to Luis Antonio's store room. Antonio was Michaela’s husband. The simple question is, what would it be doing at the Murats’ house.
True, Michalea was at that time still married to Antonio, and both she and Murat seemed to be regular visitors at Antonio’s house. Did Murat have a set of Antonio’s keys. Was Murat using Antonio’s store room keys (and perhaps others?) during the days prior to Madeleine being reported missing?
K. The encryption systems on Robert Murat’s computer, and his explanation for having them there
The Portuguese Police found encryption systems on Robert Murat’s computer, just as predicted by the second witness we learnt about above.
Here we print an edited summary of Robert Murat’s response to the police’s questions about his computer. The interview with him took place on 14 May 2007, just 11 days after Madeleine was reported missing.
Robert Murat, in answer to a question, said that no-one, without his authorisation, had ever accessed his computer systems. Apparently he had three such systems. One was called ACER, which has the Vista operating system installed. Another was a system developed by ASUS, and then he had a third system, his own ‘LG’ system. These last two systems had the XP operating system installed.
He told the police that it was by mere chance, and as a result of his mother’s choice, that the computer systems were interconnected and shared the access to the internet through an ADSL Modem-Router.
The contract for internet access, with SAPO - that is, Portugal Telecom - had been signed by his mother.
He told police that he did not consider himself an expert in computers and I.T. communications, but admitted to having used computers for ten years. He added that his current ADSL Modem-Router equipment was, so far as he recalled, an SMC brand. This was significant as it makes it possible to operate a network of computers via a ‘network-without-wires’, or ‘WiFi’ - wireless networking.
He was asked by the Portuguese police why the various computer systems that he had in his house were unsynchronised - that is, gave completely different times as to when, for example, he sent out e-mails. Murat told police that, as far as he knew, his computer systems had clocks with the date and time that were set to the official time. He could not explain why they were, in fact, unsynchronised.
He suggested that it might be due to the installation of the computers having been done by an outside company, ‘125 Computers’, whose headquarters were in Mexilhoeira-Grande. This company had configured all his operating systems.
Murat told the police that, so far as he knew, only ‘normal computer programs’ were on his computers. He said that the operating system and tools would be those typical of Microsoft family, such as word processing, spreadsheet, an internet browser called ‘Internet Explorer’, and anti-virus programs.
He went on to explain that his commercial activity was in the area of real estate. He advertised homes for sale on the internet. His computer programs, he said, were only what he needed for his commercial activity.
Asked if he had any unusual systems installed on computer, he referred only to a common computer program called ‘CCleaner’. This, he said, was just to improve the performance of his systems, and could not be used for example to erase traces of child pornography that might be on his computer. The CCleaner program was installed, he said, at his son’s suggestion. Murat admitted he did not know the full potential of the ‘CCleaner’ program. [NOTE: The CCleaner program does not wipe data from a hard disk].
The police put to him that a computer expert had told him that the ‘CCleaner’ program was designed to, inter alia, delete all the following: the history of navigation on the internet, temporary files, the exchange of files, recently used documents, the register of applications, the various registry files or ‘logs’, and the ‘garbage can’ or ‘recycle bin’. Murat said he’d used the program for about three years but that he didn’t know any details about how it operated; just that it enabled his computer to run more efficiently.
He was asked explicitly if he used encryption systems on his computer. He said categorically that he did not. He was asked specifically if he used strong encryption systems in his internet browser. He again denied it and emphasised that he does not use encrypted communications on the internet or in his computer system.
He added that he did not use, nor has, encrypted data in his systems, nor did he use enciphering to mask, hide or prevent access to data contained in his systems. Asked if he used encryption or enciphering in e-mail communications, he simply told the Portuguese police that he did not know what encryption was or how to use it.
The Portuguese Police now had Murat in a corner, as they had indeed found encryption and enciphering systems on his computer. The police asked him how he could explain the presence of several encrypted or enciphered files on in his systems, seeing that he is an experienced computer user for over ten years - and given that he had earlier in the interview declared that no-one else had had access to his computer network without authorisation.
Murat replied: "I would not know how to explain that”.
Finally, the police asked Murat to explain the contradiction of his maintaining that his network was ‘unprotected’ or ‘open’, whilst at the same time his experience must have told him that he needed to take action to keep his computer network secure. The police say that Murat replied: “I haven’t thought about that”.
Murat said he never used computers in cyber cafés in Praia da Luz or elsewhere. Murat was asked if he had ever talked to anyone besides his lawyer on how he could prove his innocence, either personally, or by telephone, or in cafés, or elsewhere. It was put to him that there might have been a conversation about police techniques for establishing the guilt or innocence of a suspect.
At this point, Murat asked for a break.
Resuming after an interval, Murat said he had spoken on this subject mainly with family and friends. But he also now remembered having spoken with Portuguese Police Inspectors on one occasion at his home when he asked about whether someone could be tracked through the antennas of mobile ’phone masts to prove whether he had been at home at any given time. The Inspectors had replied, he said, that it would be possible, but told him not to worry about it.
Last edited by Tony Bennett on Wed Jan 12, 2011 2:07 pm; edited 6 times in total (Reason for editing : Re-formatting)
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Re: ANALYSIS - Why did Robert Murat have encrypted material on his computer? PLUS: The key found in Murat's house...the secret 'golf Club meeting' - and more
Daoud wrote:Tony Bennett wrote: ... The CCleaner program was installed, he said, at his son’s suggestion. ...
Hi Tony, I hesitate to say that this is news to me, but it is! So Robert Murat has a son? Any more details about this Tony - name, age etc. He must be quite old (teenager) if he's giving his Dad advice about
computer software. And who is the mother?
Dawn Murat has a son who was bought up by Robert. In fact Dawn's son changed his last name to Murat and he continues to use Murat as his surname to this day.
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