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Return of the Inspector to the crime scene. Gonçalo Amaral interview with Sabado Magazine

Original Source: Sabado magazine Thursday 27 /04/2017
Sabado magazine Thursday 27 /04/2017 Paper Addition
With thanks to Montclair for translation

 Return of the Inspector to the crime scene. 

Years after the investigation which ended his career, Gonçalo Amaral explains how Maddie’s body could have disappeared: cremated with that of a British citizen


He was having dinner with a friend, after a day’s work, when near midnight 3 May 2007, he received a phone call which would influence the years to come. He gave instructions over the phone, went to the night squad and then went home. The inspector at the time couldn’t know then that he was to becomes a “worthless policeman”, pledged to a line of investigation dedicated to the presumption of guilt of a couple of English doctors, and he will be called countless times “drunk”, “womanising” and “sleazy” in the British press and on the internet." Ten years is a life. A lawsuit with a request for €1.200.000,00 compensation is very heavy burden at all levels. The economic and financial strangulation was brutal. Abruptly abandoning a successful career as a criminal investigator to defend my name and professional honour as well as of those who worked with me, is painful and irreparable” said Gonçalo Amaral, 57 years old, almost a decade after that telephone call, which informed him of the disappearance of en English child from a tourist complex in Praia da Luz, 7 kilometres from Lagoa, in the Algarve. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. The child was Madeleine McCann.

While Gonçalo Amaral went home, in apartment 5A of Ocean Club, in Praia da Luz, the GNR “who took almost an hour to get to the place because of road works” were already there, as well as the people in the McCann group – 9 in total plus 7 children – and a PJ team. Signs of that confusing night, in which the mother screamed in the street about 22h00, “we let her down” and which there are contradictions between the friends as to the established timeline of the visits to the minors in the apartments, while they dined and drank 50 meters away, are two: a palm print of a man on the window, which would be discovered as that of an element of the scientific police, and Kate’s finger prints, on the window in the children’s bedroom, where the parents would insist that the abductor came in. But the lowered shutter showed no sign of being forced.

In the kitchen sink there were glasses of chocolate milk, which were never analysed, and which could have been used to prove the use of medication – which would have corroborated the hypothesis of accidental death and concealment of a body defended by the main coordinator of the investigation. In the family’s camera there were no photos of that night. It would be impossible to know what each English person was wearing. Also, there were no CCTV: in the complex, in the surrounding streets, petrol stations, ATMs and pharmacies. The only camera which could have registered what the Smiths will say later that they saw, witness considered important for the coordinator at the time, was ignored by the PJ and when it was identified the images were no longer available.

The Irish family had already returned home when, at the beginning of October, the McCanns having already been made arguidos, returned to the UK and were captured by the TV cameras in Leicestershire. The head of the Smith family recognised the photo of Gerry McCann holding one of the twins in his arms as the man he saw the night of 2007. The Irish family never returned to Portugal – “I don’t even know if they are still alive” – Gonçalo Amaral said as he went up the Rua da Escola Primária where the family is supposed to have come across Maddie’s father in the night of 3 May 2007 with his daughter in his arms.

The car boot

That night the twins kept sleeping, with the police, many witnesses and Ocean Club workers in the 5A apartment. They were taken still sleeping to another apartment where, later, Fiona Payne would say that she saw Kate McCann with her hand under the nose and on the mouth of the children as if to see if they were still breathing. The lead of Capol, which the mother admitted giving to the children to get them to sleep never went anywhere.

In August, the course of the investigation changed to preview the possible death of the child, with suspicion falling on the parents. The sudden change was based on biological traces gathered in the car rented by the McCanns in May. A fact that Gonçalo Amaral ignored because the initial line of investigation was that of an abduction.

In front of the apartment, the ex-inspector points to the places where the British police dogs found cadaver odour, in the small garden which leads to the interior of the apartment, in the back of the tourist complex above the swimming pool and restaurant where the group of the English dined every night, while they were there. And also in the interior of the house, behind the sofa. “In the car, where, in August, the gathering of traces was carried out with the help of the dogs, the father’s blood was found on the car key and in the boot of the car body fluids as if they had drained from above the tire well as well as hairs which the laboratory says are the same colour as Madeleine McCann’s hair. But these traces were devaluated by the English laboratory which the Portuguese police chose – “in order to not accuse us of falsifying the results”, said Amaral.

In October, in declarations to Diário de Notícias, Gonçalo Amaral criticised the British police. He was dismissed and taken off the case by the national head of the PJ. The Smith family was to come to Portugal. “Who told a journalist that the British police should worry about what was agreed in Portugal, which is to follow the line of investigation of the responsibility of the parents in the disappearance of their daughter, was me. After that, what Dr. Alípio Ribeiro said, the decision to take me off the case, in Portimão, is a consequence of that. But it also opened the door to the shelving of the case and that is what happened” he tells us 10 years later.

This week, Pedro Carmo, vice director of the PJ, said that the investigation is still being carried out, now under the authority of a team in Porto. “We have never had a case like this, nor afterwards.” A source of the Public Ministry prefers to remember that some of the strange things about this case is the existence of “two parallel investigations” and the “submission to the United Kingdom”.

Well founded suspicions

The decision of 31 December (January) 2017 by the Supreme Court, confirmed afterwards in March this year, was the confirmation of the Appeals Court decision which overturned the decision which forced Gonçalo Amaral to compensate the couple for damages caused by the publication of “Maddie: The Truth of the Lie”. Several British newspapers considered the decision “shameful”, for saying that there were “well founded suspicions” in the ex-PJ coordinator’s theory. For Gonçalo Amaral this is the “confirmation of a whole line of investigation”, shown in the book which he published in July 2008 and which led him to hell.

Maddie: A Verdade da Mentira, which never reached the British market, was translated in several countries and sold 170 thousand examples in Portugal. In 2009, the Civil Court of Lisbon ordered the freezing of all profits obtained from the book in the first case brought by the McCanns, who demanded compensation of 1.2 million euro's. Author’s copyrights and Amaral’s share in the company he created after he left the PJ, a third of his salary as director and even the Jaguar he bought it May in the name of Gonçalo Amaral Unipessoal, Lda., which never was able to offer “services of professional advice in the area of criminal investigation” were all frozen.

Near the Luz Church, where the parents were seen many times and photographed, Amaral confessed that “he never forgot the disappeared child and there are always people giving him information about the case”. This is where the coordinator who was also on the “Joana case”, disappearance in 2004 of a child, in which the mother and uncle were convicted of murder, holds on to the explanation of a perfect crime.

“One night (December 2007?) three figures were seen entering the church with a bag, through the side door, when there is a body of a lady from the UK inside and which was then sent to be cremated in Ferreira do Alentejo. It is possible that the child’s body was in the urn”, he said.

Between the 5A apartment, where the McCann family spent their holidays, and the Anglican church, Gonçalo Amaral never says the diminutive the the disappeared child’s name, Maddie, her baptismal name, nor the name of the child’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann. For him, a decade after the facts, they are only “the missing child” and “the couple”.


Sábado Magazine
Interview Gonçalo Amaral

The former inspector says that the PJ went along with Scotland Yard and there was servility on the part of the Public Ministry and the government in relation to the British.

By Fernanda Cachão and Mónica Palma

“There was too much diplomacy”

Outside of the judicial case, Gonçalo Amaral states that the McCanns took away any possibility he had of a professional life.

Is there a political balance to make of this case?
There is and it is very strong. Please note I never returned to the Polícia Judiciária (PJ) and the couple already. The head of the PJ and the magistrate are doing what is politically correct. In the UK and here the police headquarters went in step with Scotland Yard. They don’t investigate anything which could compromise the parents or the friends. It is a mistake. Furthermore, there cannot be parallel channels of investigation, because it is not normal that the ambassador of a foreign country comes to a scene to put pressure so that “it has to be fast”. After this meeting, the head of the PJ read a statement saying that they were looking for an abductor with which I and others did not agree. If the ambassador and even the consul had not shown up, the investigation would have been directed to what is normal, which is suspecting those who have the responsibility of the custody of the child. There was too much diplomacy.

As the coordinator didn’t you have a word to say?
I and other colleagues said what we had to say. We were told that that was the direction and afterwards we would go back to the other.

My superior at the time.

How is it that the visit of the ambassador intimidates or orientates in this way an investigation?
y the servility we have in relation to the English. The Judiciary, the Public Ministry and the government felt intimated by the UK. The mistake was the announcement speaking of an abduction.

Did Maddie’s parents receive special treatment?
In what I call my naiveness, I note the fact that they belonged to the English upper middle class and the British don’t like it when their doctors make a mess abroad and that they are convicted for it.

Ten years later, what self-criticism have you done?
I should never have retired from the PJ. I should have – and because the police never defended me or my colleagues from the insults made about us – written and published the book as a member of the PJ. I should never have allowed that we were the target of so much pressure. When the couple left, the British police who were here to cooperate and help also left. The sensation we had was that the British police were only here to protect the couple. We were too sincere and then they took advantage. For example, we sent forensic samples to the English laboratory, when the tests could have been done by a Portuguese one, so that we would not be accused of manipulating the final results. We were naïve and too diplomatic.

Is this a particularly distressful case for you?
The case in itself no. The case against me also no. The distress came from what they did to me outside of the case. The violation of my private life, the destabilisation of the person, the insults, the defamation and destroying any possibilities of a professional activity that I would like to do. I have been prevented from doing so. Things were not just done inside case, a lot was done outside of it.

Have you turned your back on the former heads of the PJ?
No, I’m just making a criticism and I have the right to do so. You don’t throw away a higher ranking officer just to protect a couple suspected, at the least, of neglecting their children which lead to the disappearance. It was almost a lack respect to take that decision (that it was an abduction) and make it public. They did not look at the case objectively. If the investigation ever does come to an end and it is proven that the parents had nothing to do with it, then that is fine.



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