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'These cops framed my wife'

Original Source: SUN: 08 SEPTEMBER 2007
By OLIVER HARVEY Chief Feature Writer
September 08, 2007

THE husband of a Portuguese woman jailed for the murder of her child spoke last night of his fears for Kate McCann.

Leandro Silva said his wife had been set up and he believed police would do the same thing to four-year-old Madeleine’s mother.

He said: “I am worried Kate will be framed for a crime she did not commit, the way it happened to my wife.”

Leandro also demanded that one of the detectives leading the Maddie investigation should be dropped from the case.

Detective Goncalo Amaral has been accused of being involved with beating Leandro’s wife, Leonor Cipriano, during her interrogation over the death of her daughter, Joana, nine.


Fears for Kate ... Leonor's husband Leandro

Speaking exclusively to The Sun, Leandro said: “Goncalo Amaral shouldn’t still be investigating the McCann case.

“I believe he will be proved to be a bad policeman and a bad operator.

“I don’t believe Kate and Gerry have anything to do with Madeleine’s disappearance.

“I just don’t believe they would do such a thing. After losing Joana I know the pain they are going through. It’s terrible.”

In news that shocked the world Kate McCann was yesterday declared an “arguida” ? Portuguese for suspect ? in the hunt for Maddie.

And the story of little Joana Cipriano has some chilling echoes of the British child’s disappearance.

Joana vanished on September 12, 2004, just seven miles from the spot where Madeleine went missing on May 3.

The innocent, brown-eyed youngster, her chestnut hair cut into a boyish crop, set off from home in the village of Figueira to collect groceries.

But she never returned. Like Maddie, it was as if Joana had disappeared off the face of the Earth.


Kate ... appealed to the public like Leonor

According to a neighbour of the girl, Joana was mature for her age.

She explained: “Instead of playing with other children she spent her time taking care of her two little brothers.”

Another neighbour described her as the “Cinderella” of the household, seen at all times of the day and night running errands for her family.

Her mother made public appeals for her daughter’s safe return, claiming she had been kidnapped.

But authorities started to suspect the disappearance.

Local shopkeeper Nídia Rochato remembered that Leonor neither cried nor seemed unduly concerned.

When asked about this, Leonor is said to have told Nídia she believed her daughter was still alive.

Like Maddie’s case, the investigation into Joana’s disappearance got off to a bad start.

Local Republican National Guard failed to seal off the house where she was last seen.

In November 2005 Leonor, 34, was found guilty, along with her brother Joao, of Joana’s murder and is now serving 16 years.

Leandro, Joana’s stepfather, said: “Leonor never did anything yet she was arrested.

“I am fearful the same thing will happen to Kate McCann. Whenever I watch the news it reminds me of Joana. It is hard.


Bruised ... Leonor alleges police beat her

“I just pray Madeleine appears. With Joana the police did a bad job. They didn’t spend enough time looking for the child.”

A photograph of Leanor's face ? black and blue with bruises ? was published in Portuguese newspapers.

The mum accused police of beating her during an interrogation that took place without her lawyer present or with the knowledge of the public prosecutor.

Goncalo Amaral, head of the regional Judicial Police, is one of five officers accused over the beating.

The portly, balding senior cop in his 40s has also been heading the Maddie McCann investigation.

Portugal’s Ministerio Publico said in June it had charged three police officers with torture, a fourth with omission of evidence and a fifth with falsification of documents.

It did not reveal who had been charged with which offence.

Police sources in Portugal deny Mr Amaral has done anything wrong.

Despite the allegations, the detective has not been removed from the McCann case.

They say he is a dedicated and professional officer. Police sources said Mr Amaral was “very angry” about the allegations and was considering taking action against the Ministerio Publico.

A source said: “He is very professional and has had a lot of success in solving cases. He is very upset because reporters never speak of these successes.”

Amaral ... leading the search for Maddie

Madeleine’s family reacted with disbelief to the claims against Mr Amaral.

The missing girl’s aunt Philomena said: “Just about every country in the world is watching this. What do you think the Portuguese government would do?

“Would they have some kind of rogue policeman there? I doubt it. I find it highly unlikely. No way would they have him on such a high- profile case.”

Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry, were informed of the charges by the a Foreign Office on June 10.

A spokesman for the family said: “They do not remember meeting Goncalo Amaral face to face but naturally they were concerned to hear of the charges.”

Supporters of Mr Amaral claim Leonor didn’t report her daughter missing for two days.

Prosecutors at her trial claimed Leonor and her brother were found by Joana having sex when she returned with the groceries.

They said the pair were afraid Joana would tell what she saw and claim the pair beat the child in order to frighten but killed her in the process.

Leonor waits behind bars for news on the case against the officers accused of beating her.

Only time will tell if anyone will ever be prosecuted over Maddie’s disappearance.


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