Sunday, 28 November 2010
According to the anti-Madeleines the British press are heavily biased towards the McCanns, only promoting the abduction theory, not the now discredited thesis of Amaral’s, that she died in the apartment, and that Kate and Gerry somehow faked her abduction. There are even some who, incredibily, think all this is due to some bizzare secret governmental order to protect the McCanns! Of course this is pure, unadulterated nonsense. Who else can remember such sensational headlines like “We can prove they did it!” “DNA tests prove she’s dead!” “Tapas friend set to change story!” Hardly biased towards the McCann’s, are they? No wonder then, that when Kate and Gerry issued orders to sue the press for such unsubstantiated and libelous headlines the press, realising they had no evidence whatsoever to back up these claims, immediately backed down, settled out of court, made a generous donation to the search fund and issued a full and wholey appropriate front page apology to Kate and Gerry.
All of this not withstanding, however, we should always be carefull when quoting from press articles, and avoid any sensationalistic or unproven speculation or invention. This article, however, is not based on any journalistic copy-selling guesswork, but is an actual eye witness account, written by a reporter who was actually tailing Amaral around for a couple of days.
It makes for shocking reading.
Flagrant breaching of his own supposedly strict secrecy laws. Two to three hour lunch breaks. 252 tip offs, any one of which could have been THE one, almost all of which were studiously ignored. I could make some flippant, almost humerous remark about wishing my own job were so easy.
But, to be honest, I just don’t find anything about this man funny.
Grant Hodgson In Praia Da Luz, sundaymirror.co.uk 30/09/2007
THE SEARCH FOR MADELEINE: DAY 150
Puffing on a cigarette and knocking back beers, the man leading the world's biggest missing child inquiry enjoys yet another long, boozy lunch.
Portuguese police chief Goncalo Amaral worked as little as four-and-a--half hours a day this week - despite a mountain of uninvestigated sightings of Madeleine McCann on his desk.
The Sunday Mirror has discovered that 252 possible tip-offs about the four-year-old have been reported to Amaral, any one of which might just lead to her being traced. But the vast majority have not even been checked.
Amaral, in charge of a squad of 30 detectives, has convinced himself she is dead, despite having no evidence for it.
And since the return from Portugal of Kate and Gerry McCann and most of the media covering the case, many in his squad have had their feet up, their main role seemingly to provide drinking companions for their boss.
The McCanns, who cling to the hope of getting Madeleine back, will be appalled that the inquiry - supposedly still running at full-steam - has effectively stopped amid a welter of boozy lunch breaks.
A source close to the family said: "It is devastating for them to know leads are not being chased up. They always feared that once they left Portugal, the inquiry would peter out."
On Wednesday, when the world was praying that a little girl seen in Morocco may be Madeleine, Amaral and his team seemed utterly uninterested and left it to the British media to establish it was a false alarm.
He instead enjoyed a two hour 10 minute lunch washed down with wine. The next day was a similar tale - lunch lasted two-and-a-half hours. And on Friday he was gone for more than three.
Even more appallingly, while Kate and Gerry have been warned they face a year in jail for discussing the case, Amaral was overheard in a cafe brazenly accusing them of killing Madeleine.
In a conversation with a Portuguese racing driver, he was heard saying he was sure the little girl was dead even though there's no final proof that she is. He told ex-F1 star Pedro Lamy he believed the McCanns drugged Madeleine to keep her quiet and accidentally killed her.
Amaral said: "The police case is we are sure the parents kiled Madeleine. They are both doctors and know about drugs. We are confident in our case." One of the group outrageously chipped in how he believed the couple could have taken cocaine on the night Madeleine disappeared.
The conversation was a flagrant breach of the judicial secrecy rules which prevent Kate and Gerry from defending themselves against police leaks. Amaral, his beer belly spilling over his baggy jeans and a creased shirt unbuttoned to reveal a gold medallion, looked more like a holidaymaker than a detective in charge of a case which today enters its 150th day.
Only last week Antonio Cluny, president of Portugal's public prosecutors service, said the search for Madeleine's body was a huge priority for the police. Until it is found, he said, prosecutors had to consider the possibility that almost anything could have happened to the girl and they could not rely on the police theory that Kate and Gerry were responsible for her death. He said: "Without the little girl's body, everything is extremely complicated."
Amaral, who is himself under investigation for allegedly helping to cover up a police beating carried out to extract a confession from the mother of another missing girl, is the regional head of the Policia Judiciaria, or PJ for short.
The Carvi fish restaurant where he spends hundreds of pounds a week is a few minutes' walk from PJ headquarters in the seaside town of Portimao.
The Sunday Mirror watched as Amaral and colleagues tucked into a series of fish dishes, washed down with lager and white wine.
His longest session, which lasted three hours and 10 minutes, was on Friday afternoon. It meant he could not have carried out more than four-and-a-half hours of work all day. Amaral, 47, who has a young daughter, is No3 in the Madeleine inquiry, in charge of its day-to-day running. After one drinking spree this week, the moustachioed police chief got in his car and drove home.
The McCanns were questioned separately at the grim PJ building for up to 10 hours earlier this month when they became suspects in Madeleine's disappearance.
Kate was also told if she agreed to admit she had accidentally killed Madeleine she would receive a lighter sentence.
The couple, now at home in Rothley, Leics, vehemently deny having anything to do with their daughter's disappearance. The McCanns' official spokesman Clarence Mitchell said last night: "Kate and Gerry want to cooperate with the Portuguese police and would hope that they and their resources are being deployed as effectively as possible at all times."
And writing in his regular internet blog this week Gerry McCann told of the rollercoaster ride they experienced this week after the false alarm in Morocco. He added: "Despite the disappointment, it is encouraging that people are still being vigilant and have not stopped looking for Madeleine.”
“This is so incredibly important to us both."
Although not, it seems, to Chief Inspector Goncalo Amaral.
DIARY OF POLICE CHIEF AMARAL
1.15pm GO FOR LUNCH - 4.23pm BACK TO WORK
Wednesday: While the world hopes a young blonde girl seen in Morocco might be Madeleine, Amaral and his team have other priorities.
9.30am: Amaral arrives for work in his car wearing a beige jacket, jeans and a white shirt.
1.17pm: He casually strolls out of the police building and takes a leisurely stroll to the Carvi restaurant with his boss Guilhermino Encarnacao - dubbed Inspector Clueless - who is making a rare visit to the investigation.
Lunch: They share a bottle of wine white and two fish platters before heading back to the office at 3.27pm.
6.30pm: Amaral heads home.
Thursday: Amaral's boss has left town, meaning he can focus properly his lunch.
9.30am: He clocks on.
1.07pm: It's down tools time as he heads for lunch with a younger colleague.
1.15pm: They are joined by a Nancy Dell'Olio lookalike, who wears a figure-hugging black dress. The woman greets Amaral by patting him on the backside and ruffling his thinning hair.
1.20pm: The group move to Amaral's preferred secluded table. His first drink is a pinkcoloured fruit cordial but he's soon switching to a glass of Portuguese Sagres lager.
2.19pm: Amaral has a coughing fit which lasts more than three minutes. He splutters at the table, sipping water before picking up the bill for the £84 meal.
3.30pm: The woman leaves by herself and the men follow a few minutes' later.
6.13pm: Amaral emerges from the building with the colleague he went to lunch with. They return to the Carvi and sit watching the evening news on the TV.
6.48pm: The young man leaves after another beer. Amaral stays on, eating a couple of fish dishes.
9.55pm: After a few more beers, he heads back to his car and drives home.
Friday: 9.54am: Amaral pitches up for work even later than normal.
1.08pm: After fewer than three hours at his desk, he's off to pick up his daughter from school and brings her back to the Carvi with him.
1.15pm: He orders the first of at least four beers. He and his colleague also order a bottle of white wine while the little girl has a soft drink.
2.14pm: He takes his daughter back to the car. She is driven off and he is joined by two more friends and his racing driver friend. Amaral then has at least three more beers and a glass of wine.
4.23pm: It's nearly time to go home and, after splitting the bill and saying goodbye to his friend, Amaral and two of his colleagues slowly walk back to their office.
5.55pm: After just an hour and 32 minutes back at his desk, Amaral emerges into the bright afternoon sunlight carrying a white plastic bag and blue folder. He walks the short distance from his office to the underground car park.
6.10pm: After getting into his navy blue Volvo he heads for home, and the 148th day of the Madeleine hunt ends as it began - in a hive of inactivity.
Thursday, 25 November 2010
On the evening of the 3rd of May, 2007, while Madeleine’s parents were beside themselves with fear and panic, and their friends, together with the staff and guests of the Ocean Club complex were frantically searching for Madeleine, there was one man who was conspicuous by his absence; that is Chief of police, Gonçalo Amaral, of the Portimão district PJ. When the news that an innocent child, daughter of a foreign national tourist, had gone missing on his patch, Amaral was having a meal in his local restaurant. We are sure that you, the reader, would agree that in this entire world there is nothing more precious than the life of a child. It would be natural to assume that when a young one disappears, presumed taken, the local police chief would leap into action, rush to the scene and make that innocent’s life his number one priority.
Not so Amaral.
No, he stayed right were he was, enjoying his wine and shrimps, too busy with the company of his friends to even bother leaving the restaurant, never mind think of attending the scene and taking charge like any other caring member of a police force sworn to protect the public would. Instead he issued a few vague instructions via his mobile to the effect that the child had probably just wandered off, and that the local GNR should go home, and return in the morning, to see if she had been found.
So much for ‘To serve and to protect.’
This attitude is in stark contrast to a similar case late in 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A. There, a five year old girl, Natalie Rose Flores, was snatched from outside her house on Christmas day.(1) As soon as it became obvious that Natalie had been snatched an Amber Alert went out throughout the United States of America and the Phoenix law enforcement swung into action, using a well rehearsed plan . The local Police Chief, though off duty at the time, turned out to make sure everything possible was being done to find the child. However, his presence was unnecessary, as his officers knew the drill and were already marching to the same beat. They knew the golden hours of finding the child unharmed would pass quickly and there wasn’t a moment to waste. Seven hours later, an officer spotted a vehicle and driver that resembled the description of the suspect and even though the license plate differed from reports he wasn’t taking any chances and gave chase. The little girl Natalie was recovered alive and well. And this Police Chief turned out, despite being off duty, because he wanted to be a part of the rescue operation.
It was this seemingly callous indifference by Amaral to the case of a missing four year old girl that first aroused our suspicions, not just of Amaral, but the whole handling of the case. It led us to start asking questions with regard to the whole way this case was handled. Little did we know back then just how extensive that list of questions would eventually be. To us the biggest initial question was simply; Why did Amaral stay in the resturant? Was it simply sheer laziness? An indifference brought on by a cynical “Seen it all before” attitude? The lure of the wine and food proving too strong?
It wasn’t long before we learned that Mr Amaral’s specific task is the overall co-ordination of the case. It was his job to ensure the very basic tasks, things that should have been taken for granted, were properly carried out right at the start. Borders should have been alerted, airports warned that a child had gone missing, the port and harbour authorities put on notice. Yet it was more than eighteen hours before the borders were closed.
They might just as well have not bothered.
The abductor, if he took Madeleine overland, would have been long gone. Why did it take so long to carry out this most basic of requirements? Sloppiness? Or lack of a clue as to what to do? But, most staggeringly of all, not only did Amaral fail to do any of this, he even failed to ensure apartment 5a was properly and forensically secured as a crime scene!(2) The apartment quickly descended into a circus, with the parents and friends, staff and guests running in and out, trampling any potential evidence underfoot. Even the local GNR police were seen to be standing around, dropping cigarette ash on the floor! And why? Because the man whose job it was to co-ordinate things was still back at the resturant.
It was to be almost three months later, after several other families had hired the apartment, that Amaral, belatedly, decided it might be a good idea to make the apartment a crime scene.(3) We want to know why it took so long, why did he wait till the apartment had been let, cleaned and let again, before thinking it might be worth his while to actually see if any evidence could be found? Had he ever considered the probability that if there were any incriminating evidence left behind by the abductor it would by now be so degraded as to be utterly worthless? It is this unbelievable catalogue of errors, far too many to be simply incompetence, that has led us to ask more questions, to search deeper, to find out why Amaral failed this little girl so badly.
Thursday, 18 November 2010
When Kate and Gerry publicly announced their intention to publish a book about Madeleine’s abduction I have to admit my first reaction was to softly groan inside. Yes, I understood their motives; to put their side of the story, and to replenish the now dwindling search funds. But I knew also they were handing over a stick with which to beat themselves to their critics, known in our part of cyber-space as the anti-Madeleines. I could clearly envisage all the cries of ‘Exploitation!’ ‘They’re only interested in money!’ They’re just using her to pay of the mortgage!’ ‘Publicity seekers!’ And of course, ‘What a scam!’ It pained me greatly just to imagine it, and sure enough I was right. On the blogs and forums dedicated to persecuting and vilifying the parents of an abducted child the hatred and denigration soon reached the expected crescendo. But why was this? They are not the only people to write a book about Madeleine are they? Indeed, as we know, the first PJ senior officer in charge of the investigation, Goncalo Amaral, the man these critics of the McCanns hail as the ‘Brilliant detective’ also wrote a book, and somewhat ironically called it ‘The truth of the lie.’ Has HE received the same condemnation for cashing in on Madeleine’s disappearance? No! Far from it, in fact. Instead he has been lauded and praised, for daring to speak out, to bring us the ‘Truth’ as he sees it. All I see is sheer, naked hypocrisy. Let me explain.
Whenever a book is published the author receives payments from the profits made from the sales, called Royalties. All authors receive these payments, indeed it is how many writers make a living, and there is nothing wrong with that. But let us compare what the two books authors state were their intentions for their profits, and how they subsequently used them. We have reason to believe that Amaral stated that a portion, (I think I remember reading the figure of 10%) of his profits will go to children’s charities. A noble gesture, if true. The McCanns, on the other hand, make it very clear that ALL the profits from THEIR book will go to the fund that is financing the search for their missing daughter. Now obviously the McCann’s book is not yet on sale, so for the purposes of this comparison we will use the future repository for their royalties, the fund, as it currently exists, since it is that which is continually labelled a ‘Scam’ by the anti-Madeleines.
‘The truth of the Lie’ by Amaral, has sold several million copies to date, netting him somewhere in the region of 1.2 million euros in royalties. The McCann’s search fund, at one point, topped over two million pounds. Since then the McCanns have been completely open and transparent with the funds, publishing a full annual account in the press for the scrutiny of the public. Amaral, however, has yet, as far as I know, to do the same. If he did promise to make a payment to children’s charities it has, so far, yet to be made good. So what HAS Amaral done with all his profits? At this point I think it time to point out that one of the more common accusations levelled at the McCanns is that they are publicity seekers. Please bear that in mind for the moment, as we return to Amaral. I wish to show you two pictures of this individual, one from before he wrote his book, and one after. Let us look at the first.
Note the jeans, the bulging shirt opened to reveal a gold chain, the ill-fitting jacket, rather unkempt hair and untrimmed moustache. To be fair he may not have realised he was being photographed at that particular time, but let’s face it, he is exuding a slovenly, scruffy and unkempt look. Still on a standard PJ wage, he is yet to capitalise on his experience with Madeleine and her parents. Now lets look at another, more recent picture, post authoring his version of the events of 3rd May, 2007.
An altogether different appearance, don’t you think? A very smart, expensive and tailored suit, with matching hat. Gone is the shabby shirt, to be replaced with collar and tie. Clean shaven, and the moustache removed. Every inch the suave, sophisticated man about town. In short, the appearance of a wealthy man. And where did this new found wealth Amaral is so clearly and deliberately flaunting come from? The profits from his book, that’s where. In addition, we know he spent money on a brand new car, a top of the line Jaguar. For his birthday he held a large and elaborate birthday party, with many guests, lavishing them with what some called a spectacular fireworks display. Oh yes, and he had his ear pierced with a diamond stud! All paid for by Madeleine.
And the McCanns? Have THEY sought to change THEIR social status, or make good from Madeleine’s abduction? Well, if they have bought a new car I am not aware of it. If they have it is likely to be nothing more than an ordinary family saloon, paid out of their own wages, not a flash sporty job like Amaral splashed out on. They are not seen in expensive designer clothes, or dripping with tacky jewellery. No elaborate, firework illuminated birthday bashes for them. No round the world cruises, nor buying second homes on the continent. And yet it is THEY, according to some, who are only interested in cold hard cash, only interested in getting their faces in the press, only wanting to capitalise on their daughters disappearance. I say look again at the second picture. Who is it who is REALLY seeking the fame, adoring the limelight? Who is it who is REALLY exploiting Madeleine for their own interest?
Whenever the McCanns appeared in public it was solely for one purpose, to beg the public for information. Only in the most recent press appearances, promoting the petition and the book release, has money ever been directly mentioned. The truth is plain to see for those with eyes not blinkered with hate. For Kate and Gerry it was NEVER about the cash, NEVER about the fame. It has ALWAYS been about Madeleine. If there is still any doubt about the differences between the two authors, please look one last time at the expensive, tailored suit in the second photograph above.
Monday, 8 November 2010
It is often repeated on the more hate fuelled Madeleine related websites that the only reason Kate and Gerry are still free is because there was insufficient evidence to bring charges against them. But then the members of these sites turn right round and contradict themselves by saying ALL the evidence points to the fact that Madeleine died in the apartment. Well, which is it? Is there ‘a mountain of evidence,’ as one of their more imaginative posters once said, pointing to the McCann’s guilt? Or is there not yet enough evidence to bring charges, but a good chance that, any day now, something that was overlooked by Amaral will suddenly come to light? And what of the attention seeking Bennett, and the comment he repeats in almost all of his letters to anyone and everyone, reminding them that the McCann’s are still official suspects in their daughter’s disappearance? Is there any truth in that?
Well here, for the education of those who still hold fast to their belief that the aforementioned statements are true is the translated, full version of the summing up of the case by the Portuguese chief prosecutor himself. Please note, this is an expert in his field, a man of considerable prominence within the legal profession, someone who has forgotten more about the due process of the law than Bennett or Amaral ever knew, and unlike those two is not someone who was either dismissed or sacked from his profession for bringing it into disrepute or disgrace.
- Despite all of this, it was NOT POSSIBLE to obtain ANY piece of evidence (Note very carefully, this is saying quite clearly that there is NO evidence, NOT insufficient evidence, but NO evidence) that would allow for an average man, under the light of the criteria of LOGIC, of NORMALITY and of the general rules of experience, to formulate ANY LUCID, SENSATE, SERIOUS AND HONEST conclusion about the circumstances under which the child was removed from the apartment (whether dead or alive, whether killed in a neglectful homicide or an intended homicide, whether the victim of a targeted abduction or an opportunistic abduction), nor even to produce a consistent prognosis about her destiny and inclusively – the most dramatic – to establish whether she is still alive or if she is dead, or which seems more likely.
…… we do not possess any minimally solid and rigorous foundation in order to be able to state, with the safety that is requested, which was or were the exact and precise crime(s) that was or were practised on the person of the minor Madeleine McCann – apart from the SUPPOSED BUT DISMISSED CRIME OF EXPOSURE OR ABANDONMENT (That means the idea of neglect was considered, but then dismissed: She was NOT neglected in the eyes of the law.) – or to hold anyone responsible over its authorship.
Therefore, after all seen, analysed and duly pondered, with all that is left exposed, it is determined:
a) The archiving of the Process concerning arguido Robert James Queriol Eveleigh Murat, because there are no indications of the practise of any crime under the dispositions of article 277 number 1 of the Penal Process Code;
b) The archiving of the Process concerning arguidos Gerald Patrick McCann and Kate Marie Healy, BECAUSE THERE ARE NO INDICATIONS OF THE PRACTISE OF ANY CRIME (Just how much more clearer can that be? NO indications that they committed any crime. Period. Full stop. The end.) under the dispositions of article 277 number 1 of the Penal Process Code.
Article 277 number 3 of the Penal Process Code is to be fulfilled.
Under article 214 number 1 item a) of the Penal Process Code, the coercion measures that have been imposed on the arguidos are declared extinct.
The NON INVOLVEMENT (Meaning exactly what it says:They were NOT involved.) of the Arguidos parents of Madeleine in ANY PENALLY RELEVANT ACTION (Meaning they committed NO crime.) seems to result from the objective circumstances of them not being inside the apartment when she disappeared, from the NORMAL BEHAVIOUR (NORMAL, repeat, NORMAL, NOT suspicious.) that they adopted until said disappearance AND AFTERWARDS, (STILL not acting in any way suspicious.) as can be amply concluded from the witness statements, from the TELEPHONE COMMUNICATIONS ANALYSIS (Because, despite the lies and slurs leaked by Amaral, the McCanns DID cooperate with the PJ, and DID give their phone records, with the times, dates, callers and recipients ALL logged in the official files. You know, the files that the anti-Madeleine’s love to talk about, but in truth have never actually read themselves.) and also from the forensics’ conclusions, namely the Reports from the FSS and from the National Institute for Legal Medicine.
To this can be added that, in reality, NONE of the indications that led to their constitution as arguidos WAS LATER CONFIRMED OR CONSOLIDATED. (In other words, the prosecutor could clearly see that Amaral had NOTHING, repeat NOTHING on them. He had nothing on them then, and he has nothing on them now. Zero. Zip. Nada. Zilch.) If not, let us see: the information concerning a previous alert of the media before the police was not confirmed, the traces that were marked by the dogs WERE NOT RATIFIED IN LABORATORY, and the initial indications from the above transcribed email, better clarified at a later date, ended up being revealed as INNOCUOUS. (Again, how clear can that be? The dogs indication were not backed up by one of the best forensics laboratories in the world. The dogs made a mistake. They didn’t lie, they simply indicated at something other than the scent of a corpse. It happens, they are NOT infallible.)
Even if, hypothetically, one could admit that Gerald and Kate McCann might be responsible over the child’s death, it would still have to be explained how, where through, when, with what means, with the help of whom and where to they freed themselves of her body within the restricted time frame that would have been available to them to do so. Their daily routine, until the 3rd of May, had been circumscribed to the narrow borders of the ‘Ocean Club’ resort and to the beach that lies next to it, unknowing the surrounding terrain and, apart from the English friends that were with them on holiday there, they had no known friends or contacts in Portugal.
How, where, when? Questions not one, single, McCann critic has ever successfully answered.
Because Kate and Gerry had nothing to do with it.
There is absolutley no ambiguity in this report: No margins for discussion, no ‘Wriggle room.’ It states quite clearly that Kate and Gerry are innocent of any crime. There IS no evidence against them, none whatsoever. All the speculation, gossip and innuendo in the world will not solve this case, only good, old fashioned detective work. Pity then, that the first detective on the job was woefully inadequate, and fell far short of the expectations placed on him and, instead, chose to line his own pockets at Madeleine’s expense, damning her to her fate with a glass of wine in a sea food restaurant.
Oh, and just for Bennett. No, the McCann’s are NOT still official suspects in the case. When they were cleared of arguido status, any legal or official suspicion, if there ever even was any, given that the word arguido is open to interpretation, ended right there and then. Further, Kate and Gerry were NEVER made suspects at any time by Leicestershire police, Scotland Yard, the C.I.D. or any other police force in Britain or any other country. They are NOT official suspects. And that is an indisputable and incontravertable fact.
Now, exactly what part of ‘Kate and Gerry are innocent’ do you not understand?
Wednesday, 3 November 2010
The tragic case of the abduction of Madeleine McCann has become the most iconic of its type in living memory. To say this case has been characterised by the sheer scale of police incompetence involved would be an understatement, and the press and media coverage around the world seems to bear out many people’s opinion that the handling of this case was, at best, a shambles. Indeed, to quote the head of Scotland Yard, it was ‘Botched and bungled from day one.’ In our opinion, however, there is more than simple ineptitude involved, in fact we feel we have identified a number of very clear indicators that seem point to a level of corruption going right to the heart of the case. We feel that there is enough evidence of this corruption to warrant a full public enquiry into the way the entire case was handled, starting with Amaral himself. We accept it is not our place to demand that our questions be put to Amaral, or try to place any undue influence on such an enquiry, should one be mounted, but we do feel that at some point, the following concerns should be addressed.
Starting with the night Madeleine disappeared, Amaral was having a meal in his local restaurant. When he got the call that a child had vanished, presumed abducted, in his field of jurisdiction, instead of leaping into action and travelling to the scene to take charge, he remained at the restaurant, issuing vague orders to the effect that the child had probably just wandered off, and told the officers on the scene to come back the next day. Especially as he is a parent himself, we find this blasé, flippant attitude in dire need of an explanation.
There was no properly organised and coordinated search of the area and buildings, something that Amaral himself should have taken responsibility for. Some houses and buildings were not searched until several weeks later. Why was this not properly addressed right from the beginning?
The apartment itself, a possible crime scene, was never properly secured.(1) One local GNR officer, on arrival, is known to have said it was possibly the worst preserved crime scene he had ever attended. Family, friends and staff had been allowed free rein, and trampled and destroyed what little potential evidence there may have been. Again this failure is down to Amaral. Again we must ask, why did he not attend?
The initial forensic examination of the apartment was carried out in a very amateurish manner with some fingerprint dusting having to be done twice. The only print found on the window, sometimes mistakenly attributed to Kate McCann, was eventually shown to be that of one of the GNR policemen, Nelson Filipe Pacheco da Costa.(2) Who was in charge of this forensic sweep?
In the first few days Scotland Yard offered their assistance. They have a highly sophisticated computerised system known as HOLMES, which collates, analyses and compares all the evidence of a case, and significantly reduces the workload of the police themselves, and has been instrumental in solving a number of serious crimes in this country. This assistance was refused, allegedly by Amaral himself. Was this a simple case of putting national, or even personal pride above the wellbeing of an abducted child?
We understand that under normal police procedure a list of all guests who were staying at the complex would have been requested, along with a list of staff members. Yet this did not happen in this case.(3) Why was it that some holiday makers were even allowed to depart for home without ever being questioned?
Likewise DNA samples should have been taken from everyone in the area, to compare with any DNA found at the scene.(4) But again this normal, basic procedure was somehow overlooked, and many guests and members of staff were never asked to provide samples. This failure is exacerbated by the fact that there are still two DNA profiles collected from the apartment that have so far not been identified. How could this have been allowed to happen?
The hours immediately after a child is abducted are not called the golden hours for nothing. The chances of finding said child alive and well are statistically at their highest at this time. But the border patrols with Spain were not alerted to be on the lookout for Madeleine until a shocking eighteen hours had passed.(5)
Similarly the harbour authorities were not alerted until the next day. Why were the precious golden hours allowed to be so casually frittered away?
The rubbish bins around the holiday complex would have made ideal hiding places, or at the very least convenient dumping grounds for a criminal to dispose of anything incriminating, from a weapon to a small body. Under normal circumstances these would be one of the first things to be searched. Yet someone allowed the bins to be emptied a few days after the abduction, with no official attempt to search them ever recorded. Whose responsibility was this?
It is a common misconception that the parents called Sky News before calling the police.(6) Amaral knew perfectly well this was not true, so why did he allow this falsehood to continue to be spread, instead of correcting it? Indeed, could he even be the one responsible for starting this rumour in the first place?
There were also many false stories appearing in the press, firstly in Portugal, followed closely by the British press, that the McCanns party had consumed, according to which paper you read at the time, six, eight, ten, fifteen or even seventeen bottles of wine that night. Yet Amaral had in his possession the actual till receipt from the restaurant that night, showing that only two bottles of wine were purchased. If he knew the press were continually distorting the facts, why did he not correct them?
In this country the police are well aware of the importance of employing the public's help in searching for a missing child. There are set actions and procedures laid out, together with well established guidelines of groups such as CEOP, among others, stating clearly that pictures of the missing child need to be put into public circulation with minimum delay.(7) But here, not only was there no immediate appeal for information, the parents were actually advised against putting out any picture of Madeleine, or in any way publicising the fact that she was missing. In particular they were specifically advised not to draw attention to her most distinguishing feature, the one thing that could possibly identify her, the Coloboma in her right eye. This is incomprehensible to us, as it goes contrary not only to the guidelines mentioned above but to good common sense. Who gave this initial guidance to the McCann’s, and seemed so very reluctant to publicise the fact that a child had gone missing in a popular holiday resort?
Another expected standard course of action would be to immediately check all CCTV footage from the campsite, local shops and businesses, garages and road and motorways.(8) Again, inexplicably, this simple operation was overlooked. Who was responsible for this oversight?
Right from the start of the investigation, up until Amaral was removed from the case there were a great number of leaks to the press, often attributed to a ‘Source close to the investigation.’ This flouted the supposed strict secrecy laws, forbidding anyone from talking about an ongoing case. Who was this ‘Source?’
In particular, a journalist by the name of Felicia Cabrita was able to obtain all of the names and personal details of the McCann party of friends, including all their mobile phone numbers.(9) These were then published, again contrary to the secrecy laws, in her paper. Again, who supplied her with these details?
With regard to the secrecy laws, we understand that it is usually at the discretion of the police chief in charge of a case as to whether to implement these laws to begin with. It is also our understanding that in this particular case it was not deemed necessary by Amaral’s superiors to have invoked this rule. Why then did he go ahead and place a secrecy order on the case, only to apparently flout it at will?
One of the biggest mysteries, at least to ourselves, is that the apartment was not officially declared a crime scene until 100 days after Madeleine’s abduction.(10) In that time the apartment continued to be let to other families and holiday makers. We find this utterly staggering, almost beyond comprehension. Surely Amaral should have known that leaving it this long, and allowing further uncontrolled access to a crime scene is to completely negate the value of whatever limited forensic evidence that may still be found?
The sniffer dog reactions have probably raised more questions than any other single part of this case, and have the potential to have a book written just about them alone. But we begin with pointing out the very salient fact that the McCann’s hire car was examined, not in a secure, forensically clean environment, but a public car park. Who made this choice of location.
It is also considered to be standard practice for a suspect vehicle to be impounded with immediate effect, and we would expect that car to be taken to the examination area on the back of a police transport vehicle, or some similar arrangement. Yet here the hire car was allowed to be driven there by the McCanns themselves, who by now were obviously considered as suspects. Who authorised this?
The hire car should, within reason, have remained as anonymous as possible, and placed in a line of similar looking cars, of similar make. Instead it was left highly identifiable, with all the missing Madeleine posters still stuck inside the windows. Who allowed this to happen?
Samples of material from the point at which the dogs alerted, thought to contain DNA, were taken from the hire car and also the apartment and sent to the Forensic Science Service in Birmingham, one of the worlds leading centres for DNA analysis.(11) These samples came back as inconclusive, showing the samples could have been from anyone, in particular Madeleine’s sister, Amelie or even Kate herself. Why then did Amaral choose to ignore these results, and proceed to make the McCanns arguidos?
Furthermore, when questioning Gerry a short time after the PJ received these inconclusive results, the interviewer, presumably on Amaral’s orders, outright lied to Gerry, telling him the match to Madeleine’s DNA was 100% positive.(11) This is deliberate misrepresentation, and that alone would have seen any prosecution case thrown out of court on day one. What on Earth possessed Amaral to behave in such an unprofessional manner?
The following day it was Kate McCann’s turn to be interviewed as an official arguido.(12) Much has been made about her refusal to answer the notorious forty eight questions. But it is known that had she remained a simple witness, rather than an arguida, she would not have had the right to remain silent, nor the right to have a solicitor present. If these questions were so important that the PJ needed answers to them, why did Amaral himself pass the order to make the McCanns arguidos?
It is now known that a change was due on the Portuguese statute books just eight days after the McCanns were made arguidos, requiring significant evidence to justify such an action.(13) Was Amaral fully aware of this, and if so did it put him under undue pressure to ‘achieve results?’
Prior to heading the investigation into Madeleine’s abduction, and also that of Joana Cipriano, we know Amaral was head of the local drug squad. It begs the question, in what way would this qualify Amaral, or anyone else with a similar background, to head a missing person investigation?
We also wonder, while moving in these smuggling circles, did Amaral happen upon smugglers of other commodities, such as human traffickers or child smugglers?
We must consider the fact that Praia De Luz is a popular vacation resort, and the area as a whole is heavily dependant on the tourist industry to support the local economy. It would go without saying that a highly publicised child kidnapping would have a severe impact on the tourist trade. Therefore we have to ask, was there any undue influence from highly placed people from within the holiday business to somehow ‘Hush up’ the whole case, sweep it under the carpet and somehow ‘Solve’ the case as quickly as possible?
Going back to the most basic of police procedure, it would be natural to expect Amaral to have interviewed, or at the very least informally meet the McCanns at some time during the investigation. Why is it then, that the three of them never met until the court hearing that successfully banned his libellous book on the case?
But perhaps the biggest question of all is why on Earth Amaral was ever allowed anywhere near this case in the first place. In this country if a police officer, particularly a high ranking one, was suspected of any wrong doing they would be suspended until such time as any allegations were proved or dismissed. However, as we know, Amaral was made an arguido himself in an earlier case he coordinated, over his alleged cover up of the torture of the mother of another missing child. We find it inconceivable that, as, himself, an arguido he was then put in charge of the investigation into Madeleine’s abduction. This runs completely contrary to the standards of police accountability we are used to in this country.
We accept that this list of concerns is only a selective one, and can perhaps be considered as a brief skim over the case.
Tuesday, 2 November 2010
We first became aware of the dreadful account of the Cipriano family not long after Madeleine was abducted, when the first of the two press articles reproduced below appeared. At that point in time we were each already convinced of Amaral’s incompetence. But it was only slowly beginning to dawn on some of us individually that he could, in fact, be something much worse. But can you imagine our horror, disgust and outrage when it later became apparent that Amaral had knowingly and deliberately sought to frame an innocent woman for the murder of her own child, rather than actively seek to capture and convict the real criminal involved? Worse, he actually succeeded, as you will see below. We start with an online article from Sky News.
2:48pm UK, Monday May 12, 2008
ALEX WATTS, SKY NEWS ONLINE.
The family of a girl who vanished just seven miles from the Portuguese resort where Madeleine McCann disappeared are convinced the cases are connected. Joana was last seen near church
On the day of Madeleine's fifth birthday, Joana Cipriano's relatives have urged detectives to investigate links between the two disappearances - saying there are too many disturbing similarities for the evidence to be ignored.
Joana, eight, was sent to buy some groceries from a village store near her home in Figueira, at around 8pm on September 12, 2004. She bought a tin of tuna and some milk from the Ofelia store, and was last seen by a neighbour walking back near the village church, some 200 yards from her home. Joana never returned and, like the McCanns, her mother Leonor mounted a campaign to find her. Like them, she and her brother Joao became suspects.
The case, which ended with the pair being sentenced to 21 years, made Portuguese legal history - it was the first murder trial where a body was never found. Police officers are due to go on trial later this year for allegedly beating and torturing Leonor to make her confess. Joana's relatives told Sky News Online the pair are innocent and believe whoever took the girl is also behind Madeleine's disappearance, seven miles away in Praia da Luz. The family, who do not want to be named, said: "This sort of thing doesn't happen in Portugal - child abductions are very rare. Whoever took Joana took Madeleine too, the distance is too small. And the police ignored everything we told them, they just wanted to solve the case quickly. They didn't look at any of the things we told them about." They said the most crucial bit of evidence was a white and brown camper van, parked near Joana's home in the days before she was abducted.
The vehicle, with German number plates, disappeared around the time she vanished. They added: "There was a man living in there, but he hardly left the van. A week later the van was found abandoned in farmland in Praia da Luz. We told the police to investigate it, but they didn't listen to us." She said the man had short, curly brown hair and was about 40 years old. A suspect in the Madeleine case, spotted acting suspiciously near the apartment where she vanished on May 3 last year, was described as between 35 and 40, with long, straggly hair.
Criminologist and child protection expert Mark Williams-Thomas believes there are far too many similarities between the two cases for it not to be a strong line of police inquiry. He says that because of the huge doubts over the Cipriano convictions, whoever abducted Joana is more than likely to be behind Madeleine's disappearance. Like Madeleine's case, the police investigation got off to a bad start, with officers failing to seal off the house where she was last seen. Leonor alleges police beat her to make her confess. A photograph of her heavily-bruised face was published in Portuguese newspapers.
Goncalo Amaral, a senior detective who was sacked from the Madeleine case, is one of the five officers charged in connection with extracting the confession. The indictment reportedly alleges that they kicked her, hit her with a cardboard tube, put a plastic bag over her head, and made her kneel on glass ashtrays.
Amaral faces charges of negligence and perjury, another officer is accused of fabricating a document, and the three others are charged with torture.
THE TOP COP IN THE MADELEINE MCCANN CASE HAS BEEN ACCUSED OF COVERING UP EVIDENCE THAT POLICE TORTURED THE MOTHER OF ANOTHER MISSING GIRL INTO CONFESSING TO MURDER.(1)
Leonor Cipriano later recanted her confession, but is serving 16 years’ jail for the murder of her daughter, who vanished in Portugal’s Algarve region three years ago. The body of Joana Cipriano, 8, has never been found.
Chief Inspector Goncalo Amaral, who heads the Policia Judiciaria in Portimao, the nearest town to Praia da Luz, from where Madeleine vanished, could appear before a secret criminal hearing as early as next month. He is accused of concealing evidence over allegations that three of his colleagues tortured Cipriano, over 48 hours’ continuous interrogation, to secure a confession. All four, and a fifth accused of fabricating evidence, deny the allegations. They say Cipriano was injured when she tried to kill herself by throwing herself down police station stairs.
Portugal’s police have faced increasing criticism of their handling of the McCann case. Cipriano was unable to pick out any assailants from among the accused officers. Sources say the prosecutor is now investigating the allegation that police paid outside thugs to beat her up. One of the police officers accused of involvement in torture in the Cipriano case is recently retired chief inspector Paulo Pereira Cristovao. He has been writing a daily column on the Madeleine case for a Portuguese newspaper that has been reporting sensational stories leaked by “sources close to the police inquiry,” some of which have later proved untrue. He makes it clear he considers the McCanns are probably responsible for Madeleine’s death or disappearance.
Like Chief Insp. Amaral, he denies all wrongdoing in the Cipriano case."
We now draw your attention to the official report from the prison where Leonor was imprisoned after her trial. It makes for disturbing reading, but is very relevant to the case.
REPORT ON TORTURE SUFFERED BY LEONOR CIPRIANO. (2)
Relatório sobre Tortura de Leonor Cipriano, 8.4.2008, ACED - Associação Contra a Exclusão pelo Desenvolvimento, SOS Prisoes - report (pdf)
SOS Prisões and ACED produced a report that they sent to high-ranking Portuguese authorities with competencies in this field concerning the allegations of torture suffered in September 2004 by Leonor Cipriano at the hands of the judicial police in their offices in Faro. She is currently serving a 16-year and eight-month prison sentence in Odemira women's prison, after she was found guilty of killing her eight-year-old daughter Joana, who she reported as having disappeared. Cipriano maintains her innocence and told the author of the report, lawyer Marcos Aragão Correia, who visited her in prison on 8 April 2008, that there was no evidence to prove the allegations, before describing how she was mistreated for two days in order to induce her to sign a confession of this horrendous crime, which she eventually did. Correia also met the director of Odemira prison, Ana Maria Calado, who confirmed suspicions about Cipriano's treatment, noting that she was "shocked about the conditions in which Cipriano entered the prison". ACED argues that it does not have the means to confirm what the situation in terms of the practice of torture by the police in Portugal may be, but calls on the state to comply with its international obligations.
Leonor Cipriano's account
After accepting to meet Correia, Cipriano denied having played any part in the death of her daughter Joana, who disappeared on the evening of 12 September 2004 after she went out to buy some groceries for her mother in a nearby shop in Figueira, near Portimão, as she often did. Upon seeing that her daughter was taking longer than expected, she went to the shop and was told that Joana had been there, but had already left with a few groceries, after which the Guarda Nacional Republicana was called. On 25 September, Leonor Cipriano was placed in preventive detention in Odemira prison, and was taken by judicial police officers to their offices in Faro on the next day. She was upset by the allegations made against her (that she had killed Joana, cut her up and fed her remains to pigs), which she rejected. Meanwhile, and in the absence of any evidence, the five officers involved became aggressive, shouted and unsuccessfully tried to convince her to confess, after which the torture began. Two glass ashtrays were placed on the floor, and Leonor was forced to kneel on them, without being allowed to get up until she confessed. She showed Correia the scars on her knees, still visible four years later. She was then sat on a chair with a green plastic shopping bag over her head, and officers started striking her on the head with a cardboard tube, causing her haemorrhages resulting in blood descending to her eyes, and her hands were struck when she tried to take the bag off her head. She was told that she would not get out of there until she confessed, and was made to stand, sometimes with the bag on her head and sometimes without it, and punched and kicked on the side of her ribs, repeatedly.
The torture lasted for two days, after which she signed a confession, and she was then returned to prison, where her serious conditions led to her being taken to Odemira health centre. She was told by judicial police officers to tell the doctor that she had thrown herself down a flight of stairs in the Faro judicial police headquarters in a suicide attempt, threatening that if she spoke of any aggression, she would be interrogated again and would not survive. Cipriano said she did as they demanded in their presence, but told the prison officers and director of the prison what had happened once they left. The director ordered photographs to be taken of her, and for a legal-medical report to be drawn up as a result of her poor conditions. Leonor Cipriano's brother João was also reportedly tortured and found guilty of the murder, although the prison to which he was taken did not run the same checks to determine whether he had been subjected to an aggression. After they were both found guilty, he wrote to his sister to apologise for the lies he had been forced to tell about her. When Leonor was invited to identify her aggressors by an investigating magistrate in Évora in 2006, she was only able to identify one official who was present and did nothing to prevent the abuses, possibly because she had had a bag over her head for long periods, or due to the time that had passed, or because not all her torturers were among the six officers placed before her.
The prison director.
Correia then spoke to Odemira prison director Ana Maria Calado, who confirmed Leonor Cipriano's account, noting how shocked she was about her conditions, with black marks, haematoma and bruising in her face, mainly around her eyes, her head and ribs, mainly on her sides. She assured that the physical marks clearly indicated a violent aggression and not a fall down some stairs, something the legal-medical report also confirmed. She noted that Cipriano's conditions worsened a week after she was tortured, as the blood that had gathered at the height of her brows was so much that it ended up falling over her eyes, leaving her practically blind for almost a month, and the director regrets not having ordered photographs of this period to be taken. She also said that relations between Cipriano and the prison guards and other prisoners were good, and that she did not believe that she had attempted suicide.
Calado expressed her surprise for a number of facts: a) that the judicial police did not take Cipriano to a health centre in Faro to certify that she had fallen down some stairs; b) that the day of her interrogation was chosen during Calado's week of holidays, when she would never have allowed her to be picked up at 6 a.m. without a formal request by the judicial police; and c) that judicial police officers who arrived from Lisbon to investigate the allegations of torture proposed sharing the blame between the judicial police and prison, something she refused. Correia praised the director, describing her as "courageous" and as prizing "values" more highly than "corporate interests".
The report concludes that the testimony of Leonor Cipriano and of the prison director, as well as other available evidence, are convincing in terms of proving that a crime of torture was committed by officers of the Portuguese judicial police. It condemns the use of "medieval methods" to "extract confessions at all cost, even if they are false", as "inadmissible" and as harmful for Portugal's image as an EU member that defends human rights and has a modern legal order and, as such, argues that these practices must be punished in "exemplary" fashion, or the Portuguese citizenry will lose faith in the judicial system.
The report ends with a message from Leonor Cipriano, who was treated as a monster as a result of the horrible nature of the crime she was accused and found guilty of committing:
"I hope that my daughter Joana appears, not only to be with her again, but also to show the world that it was the gentlemen officers of the judicial police who tortured me and who are the real monsters".
(At this point we can report that at the subsequent trial of Amaral and the other officers accused of Leonor’s torture, Amaral was found guilty of concealment of evidence, falsification of documents and perjury. Most importantly, however, the judge concluded that Leonor had most defiantly been tortured, but the officers accused had to be acquitted as Leonor could not positively identify her assailants due to a bag being placed over her head during the beatings she received. Amaral was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment, suspended. Both sides have appealed.)
(Newsflash! Amaral's apeal has been rejected, his conviction stands!)
As we began to take more interest in the Cipriano case, we began to ask questions. If Leonor tried to commit suicide by throwing herself down a flight of steps, as the PJ report claimed, she was presumably in a suicidal state. What steps were taken to monitor or safeguard her welfare in the light of this disturbing incident?
Blood was allegedly found in the families fridge, and it was stated during Leonor’s trial that this blood came from Joana. If the blood in the fridge was indeed Joana's, then the fridge itself will have been covered with Joana's DNA. Was it ever forensically examined?
At the trial, photographs of the tools alegedly used by Joao and Leonor to carve up Joana's body were produced. But what about the tools themselves belonging, we gather, to Joao's father?. Very obviously, they, too, will have been covered with Joana's DNA. Were they recovered and forensically examined?
A 50,000 euro payment was said to have been made to someone within the orbit of the family very soon after Joana disappeared. One unsubstantiated claim is that this was payment for Joana from a paedphile ring. Has this matter been fully and properly investigated?
News made it into the Portuguese press about the blood in the fridge before the veil of secrecy was lifted on the case. How did that breach of secrecy occur?
We began to dig further, and found the following, flimsy evidence was all that was needed in Leonor and Joao Cipriano’s trial to convict them of murder. Remember, to this date Joana’s body has never been found, or indeed any proof that she is even dead.
The prosecution claimed that Joana came back and caught the brother and sister having sex and so they decided to kill her so she would not tell their secret. This was actually presented as some sort of evidence, despite the fact that if Joana was missing, how could the PJ have possibly known what she had or had not seen?
Staggeringly they accepted witness staements, read out in court, supposedly from members of Leonor’s villiage that said words to the effect of, ‘She must be guilty, her eyes are too close together.’ None of these so called witnesses were present in court to affirm their statements as true, they were just blindly accepted as so. Can you imagine the furore if such flippant statements were read out in a British court? To say nothing of the fact that whosoever made these staements were never called forward to testify in court as to their voracity?
Other ‘evidence’ included statements that Joana’s uncle was seen walking down the road carrying a plastic bag, and although no one had found such a bag, and that therefore this bag could not have been searched, a judge accepted it as evidence as the PJ said the bag contained Joana's body parts.
As pointed out earlier it was said that blood had been found in the family freezer and a judge accpeted that this was the blood of Joana, but this was never proved as this blood was never DNA tested. In fact this blood was never even positivly identified as human, rather than from a joint of meat.
When Leonor’s defence lawyer asked for a sample of the blood supposedly found in the family freezer, they were refused, as all samples taken had subsiquently, prior to the trial, been destroyed. How convenient.
The defence team were refused permission to bring forward as a witness a doctor, who would attest to the fact that the injuries that Leonor sustained were incompatible with a fall down the stairs, as the PJ claimed. We ourselves spotted what appears to be a cigarrette burn on Leonor’s neck in the photo’s. Did she also attempt suicide by burning herself to death?
By contrast, when a Portuguese journalist visited the hometown of Leonor and Joana, he found instead a climate of fear among the residents.(3) None of Leonor’s friends or neighbours believe in Leonors guilt, and most of the residents are fearfull that whoever took Joana will return. Where once the children were allowed to play happily outside, now they are kept indoors, under a watchfull eye. Indeed, many Portuguese residents we have spoken to say that the whole case is viewed by the majority of Portuguese citizens as one of the countries worst miscarriages of justice.
If the British police and Crown Prosecution Service had attempted to bring a case to court based on such flimsy, circumstantial and deeply flawed evidence as we have listed above there would be a public outcry. Yet this woman and her brother, by an accident of birth, were born in Portugal. And in Portugal they do things very differently.