Picture © 2012 Impala Serviços Editoriais, S.A
The marriage of ten years yielded to the pressure of the Maddie case.
Without assets nor money, the former inspector returned to his parents'
home at the age of 53. To Nova Gente he spoke of his divorce, of his
writings, about his daughters and of the litigation with the McCann
After a few years you have decided to separate from Sofia. Did that
happen as a consequence of the problems that you still have with
Maddie's parents, namely, the fact that you were left without any
assets, without means to provide for the family?
It is still to early to make that kind of accountability. Marriages end
for various reasons, which should usually remain within the personal
scope of the former matrimony. However, it was a considered decision
between me and the mother of my daughter, Inês.
I remember Sofia has always supported you and at all times during this
process. Even though you are separated does she continue to support you?
In what way? Do you, Gonçalo, also support her?
Indeed it has been like that and it remains as such, however right now I
want to preserve hers and my space. It is good to know that she is
willing to support me, but I feel better to go alone to the final fight.
As someone once said: when we were kids we did not call our family to
fend for us. Now it is time to be alone, making sure that this is the
best way to defend my daughter and her mother interests.
Will there be a filing for divorce?
The divorce is by mutual agreement, and I do hope that is declared as
soon as possible, so Sofia can follow her path and I mine. We do not
hold any grudges and our only concern is the future of our daughters. I
often say if the mother of my daughters is well, they will also be well,
and that is my main preoccupation.
How often do you visit your daughters? How do you manage that? Do you go
to the Algarve to see them or do they come to Lisbon?
Whenever I can I will go to the Algarve or they will come to Lisbon. I
still consider Rita as my daughter, even though legally I might not be
[her father], I continue to worry about her and her future; it was a
decade that I saw her grow up, and it is not possible to erase that as
if switching off a button. The internet and the cell-phone also help
shortening the distance from my daughters.
You have been increasingly close to your eldest daughter, from another
marriage. Did she followed your steps?
My eldest daughter, now 27 years-old, became my confidant. I still worry
about her future, even though she has achieved her academical goals
(Bachelor's Degree, Master in Criminal Law and an unemployed 1 Lawyer),
I generally say she is part of the so-called “geração à rasca”
[desperate generation] 2. Her mother and I were able to do for her what
many parents did and wished they had been able to do, which was to
provide her with conditions in order to succeed, but that seems to be
delayed for now. My only wish is for her to be happy.
Don't you miss your family life?
I believe the nostalgic feeling for the family life is not beneficial.
Obviously, I cherish the memories of that family life, but I am
divorcing from my wife not from my daughters, and they for me remain the
primary reason for my existence.
Are you enjoying your new life as a 'single man'? Is it easier yo be
married or to be single?
It is different, it isn't possible to make any comparisons.
How did you solve things? Was it difficult, lengthy, complicated?
It wasn't easy, but neither was it difficult. There was a consideration
and a joint assessment of our relationship; the conclusion that it was
exhausted, reached calmly and quietly, made us understand that it was
necessary to change our lives, nothing more.
Did you ever thought that because of an investigation, such as Maddie's,
your life would be turned upside down?
I never thought that, but that was only possible due to the servilism
seen in our country in its relations with the United Kingdom, where our
politicians and our intellectuals have forgotten the values of justice
and truth. If, relatively, to the politicians, it is normal that they
choose reasons of State rather than values that shape democracy, it is
not acceptable nor understandable for the intellectuals to do the same.
On the other hand, families feel helpless not knowing what they can do
in pursuit of their loved one, and what to expect of police and judicial
The fact that you have now, with 53 years-old, returned to Olivais [area
in Lisbon], to your father's home, is it a return to your origins, to
the beginning of your life?
It is a fact. My mother has passed away, my brothers no longer live
here, and now it is just me and my dad relearning to live together. It
as been interesting in every aspect, mainly because he still sees me and
my friends as the youngsters of other times portrayed in the book
[Vidas sem Defesa/Defenceless Lives] to the “moços do meu
bairro” [boys from my neighbourhood].
How is life treating you?
My life is at a stage of profound changes. Everything is going well in
terms of feeling supported by my family and childhood friends, here in
the neighbourhood I am just like anyone else, I circle almost
anonymously amongst friends and acquaintances. In economic and financial
terms I am starting to take the necessary steps towards stability. To
this end, I have defined a strategy with my new lawyer, which is to
oppose the legal action taken by the McCann couple and to solve in a
comprehensive manner all other situations.
“Vidas sem Defesa” [Defenceless Lives] is a manual for the parents of
missing children or a cry of revolt? What led you to write this third
Defenceless Lives is a manual for the parents of long term missing
children, for technicians working in the area of support to these
families and also a cry of revolt in the absence, in our country, of
structures capable of studying the phenomenon and of giving the answer
that should be given during any disappearance of a child. A fast and
effective response is slow to occur, there isn't a unified police
structure, planning and specific training is lacking.
Of all the case mentioned by you in this book, which moved you most? And
Rui Pedro's case?
All of them have touched me, it is difficult to elect one amongst all
the cases, all of them filled with despair and anguish. Rui Pedro's case
[disappeared in 1998] is special, since it serves as example of the
inertia and inefficiency of the police, as a result of lack of planning
and specific training of the investigators in charge of the case
initially, but also as an example of the the struggle and tenacity of a
family, particularly the child's mother, who did everything so his
disappearance would not fall into oblivion or ended up covered in dust
at the judicial archives.
The introduction to the book is a return to your childhood
neighbourhood, of always... What lead you to write that memory?
It is an important memory because it took me to the time when the
children of this country seemed able to play, like flocks of sparrows in
the wild, and grow away from the dangers of today, without internet or
cell-phones, and, as everyone says: we were happy. The dedication to the
“moços do meu bairro”, was made after I returned to the neighbourhood
were I grew up, where I met again many of my childhood friends and
companions of those times. Amongst them, and still living in the same
building, I have found the father of Margarida, this is a young woman of
19, who struggles like we do for the realization of her dreams. Among
those, she dreams of studying theatre, if possible in England, but due
to the current financial crisis, that might not be so easy. I always
tell her it is good to dream and to believe in the realization of our
dreams. Margarida decided to be baptised by the Catholic religion,
something which will take place in the coming months, at the moment she
is preparing herself at the local church in order to fulfil her desire
and she has already chosen the godfather. The choice fell on me and
fills me with pride, not only for the affection that I have for her, or
for the friendship of decades with her parents, but mostly because I see
in her a young woman who wishes to grow in faith, approaching the
Church, knowing Jesus Christ, without stopping to live her youth times,
like all young people she is able to distinguish between the temporal
and spiritual. It was close to the parents of Margaret and her youth
that I have rediscovered lost friendships over the years from a life of
wanderer due to my profession as a criminal investigator.
Writing has been a constant since you retired as a Judiciary Police
inspector. Is it a passion?
I will reveal a secret. In my teen years I started “scribbling” an
account about my family's life. We originate from a small village in
Beira Alta [Northern region of Portugal] which in the early years of the
1960's migrated to Lisbon in search of a better life, having gone trough
bad moments, but many good, remembering well what meant to be a member
of a large and poor family, but when we were all together those were
moments of eternal happiness. I never finished that story of life hoping
one day to do it, but everything has its time and the right time to do
so will arrive. For now it is time to conclude the “Madeleine case” and
write about what, in my opinion, still remains to be done to ascertain
the truth, the steps of investigation that need to be taken to know what
really happened to that child. The investigation of this case can be
considered as an unfinished investigation that needs to be completed. As
I write about the “Madeleine case”, about which I am not obsessed, I
fight solely for the fulfilment of justice and truth, values
my life and the so-called democratic societies, I am also writing about
another police world, the drug trafficking.
Do you already have an idea for the next book?
I have an unfinished book, with the title: “Trafficking and passions”,
where I give an account about the criminal investigation of the crime of
drug trafficking over the past three decades, the criminal
organizations, traffickers as persons (subject to desires and passions),
and not as mere criminals, the methods used by traffickers and the
response given by the Judiciary Police.
The civil suit for defamation brought against you by the McCann couple -
that was about to be tried but was postponed - and where they claim for
1 million and 200 thousand euros, do you see that as a Coup de grâce
applied by them? Do you have good chances of winning?
It's not a Coup de grâce, it is a serious attempt to annihilate me as a
person and as a citizen, however the McCanns have no facts to
substantiate their claim and perhaps they don't even have the legitimacy
to do so. I have always trusted in justice therefore I am certain and
confident of winning that civil case.
Marinho Pinto has offered himself to testify in favour of the McCanns
against you. What do you have to say about that? And what exactly is the
libel case about?
Dr. Marinho Pinto is a free citizen and he is entitled to be a witness
for anyone, whomever they might be, and regarding that matter I have no
further comments. This is not a libel suit. In fact, under the scope of
the injunction filed by the McCanns, the Superior Courts have already
decided that I did not violate any private rights of the couple, let
alone libelled them.
They were able to freeze your assets, the fees of “Maddie, The Truth of
the Lie” book, in short, they have left you without funds and without
employment; they have affected your life and of your family. Can you
understand the reason why the couple wishes to see you completely
destroyed? Is it hatred against you? What feeling does all this provoke
The couple does not forgive me for the reason that in my book “Maddie,
The Truth of the Lie”
[“Maddie: A Verdade da Mentira”]
I wrote the facts
and the conclusions of the investigation up to September 2007. They had
difficulties in coping with the truth. Initially they've depreciated the
book. Two years later they remembered the book existed, coincidentally,
I had just been appointed to be a candidate for Mayor of Olhão by a
certain political party, and the book was about to be translated into
English and eventually released in the United Kingdom. That was too much
for them, they had to carry on with their campaign of discredit against
my person and jeopardise the subsistence of my family, which by the way
is not at all Catholic, as they claim to be. And all because the couple
is afraid the truth is known.
Gonçalo, you have won at the Court of Appeals the injunction against the
publication of the book “A Verdade da Mentira”, where you defended the
thesis that Maddie had died in the Algarve. The appellate judges
considered the prohibition on the book violated the Constitution. Was
that a nice present? What happened next? Did you have the books
returned, were you indemnified in some way?
The McCann couple does not comply with the decisions of the Portuguese
courts since they have not yet returned the book copies of “Maddie: A
Verdade da Mentira”, given to their lawyer as a trustee, although the
court has already adjudicated 3. I doubt the books still exist, I even
suspect they might have been destroyed, reason why I denounced the case
to the Public Ministry [Attorney General's Office].
After nearly five years from Maddie's disappearance, do you believe the
case will be reopened? Do you still defend the reconstruction?
It is very difficult for the case to be reopened in the near future,
it's all a matter of political will. However the decision of the civil
process, may play a role in creating that political will. In the case of
a reopening of the investigation, the reconstruction will always be one
of the first steps to be taken, there is no doubt about that.
Does the couple have feelings for vengeance against you?
I don't know if they nurture feelings of vengeance on me, everything
points that way. They prey on me to silence uncomfortable voices.
The dispute that opposes them against you will end when? Is it a high
price to pay because you didn't found their daughter or because you have
said that probably they were the negligent ones?
They were negligent, you need only read the archival dispatch made by
the Public Ministry and recall the facts. I have nothing to pay to the
McCann couple, but they do, they should have already acknowledged
publicly the commitment and efforts of the Portuguese investigators in
their search for their daughter, often leaving behind their own families
and children. They are rich and still ungrateful.
Where have you gone to get the strength to continue life?
To my daughters and to the values that I defend, among them, it is
always worthwhile reiterating, justice and truth.
Do you have feelings of revenge at those who destroyed your life,
like the McCanns?
I do not have feelings of revenge because I understand the couple is
doing a “headlong rush”, for example, if the process where Madeleine's
disappearance was investigated had not been prematurely archived, the
reality would be different. However, the moment will come when the
damages caused to my family and to myself will have to be accounted for
and reimbursed, there is no doubt about that.
Gonçalo, you have lost everything you had. How have you survived?
I have survived with my retirement pension, or rather, with part of it,
even because the company that I created after my retirement from the
Judiciary Police has been ruined by the McCann couple. I do have
projects for my life that do not depend on that couple, but since I know
they do seek to destroy me I will not reveal them here.
Who was and who is now Gonçalo Amaral? Do you continue to fight for what
I am a Portuguese man like any other, with flaws and virtues, I have
always placed my family above all, despite having constituted family
twice. I live for my daughters and for the happiness of those who are
near me, it is enough to know that the other is happy for me too be also
happy. I defend the values that life has
instilled in me, and yes, I am stubborn in defending those
values. A democracy only makes sense if there is justice
and truth, if a man has value beyond the State, there are not neither
should there be reasons of State which place in question those
Do you miss being an inspector? Of returning to the investigation? What
do you miss most?
Of the adrenaline, of the decision on the edge, of the autonomy and
initiative that each criminal investigator should have.
If the McCann couple come to Portugal to attend the trial, would you
like to address them and tell them something?
Those questions would have to be answered within the scope of the
criminal process that was investigating Madeleine's disappearance.
What would you like to tell the couple if you could say something to
That the lack of money is bad, but the lack of judgement is much worse.
What are your expectations for the future?
They are good, I hope in the coming months to resolve, with the support
of my lawyer, all the problems that I have and be able to fulfil the
dreams of my children and of those who are close to me.
And a dream of yours...
I would like one day to create a foundation that would support the
integrated development of underprivileged children in order to fulfil
their dreams and give them the material conditions to survive in a
society which increasingly turns its back on the other.
in Nova Gente, published February 12, 2012
1 With the current financial crisis in Portugal, 28,1% of the younger
generation are unemployed. This is considered by some the most highly
skilled (with university degrees) generation in Portuguese educational
2 “Geração à rasca” - A youth movement that was created to protest
against unemployment, opposes the deterioration of working conditions
and the dismantling of social rights. They also actively question the
effectiveness, inevitability, legitimacy and democratic nature of the
intervention of the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank
and Financial Stabilization Fund in Portugal. Term used to describe the
younger generation that is facing difficulties due to the financial
3 Res judicata, final judgement that is no longer subject to further