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What really happened to Madeleine Beth McCann?

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The Hunt for Dr. Amaral

“…Referring to the hiring of Clarence Mitchell as the McCanns’ press 'face', Amaral said: “How is it comprehensible that the spokesman for the English Prime Minister had left, in 24 hours, Tony Blair to be the McCann family’s spokesman? Isn’t that strange?”.”

“Soon, very soon the world will know the “Truth about the Lie” and “we will gain truth and justice for a little girl who has no voice”, dead on the evening of May 3rd at apartment 5A, Ocean Club, Praia da Luz, Algarve, Portugal” -Gonçalo Amaral, 22 April 2008


2007, 3 MayGonçalo Amaral is appointed to investigate the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

In any criminal case around the world usually Investigators hunt for suspects and offenders. The Maddie-Case indeed is also very unusual in respect to this normal. Indeed, equipped with a staff of the best paid Lawyers from the UK and from Portugal as well, completed by heavy political influence, astonishingly the McCann's Fund managed to turn the case upside down.

Dr. Goncalo Amaral was the Police officer who, after four months of restless investigations, made the parents McCann „Arguidos“, which means the suspected possible offenders. On 7th September 2007 both were interviewed as formal suspects. While Gerry answered most questions to the police, Kate refused to answer any of the 48 questions. After then they flew away from Portugal despite the fact that they stated earlier that they „wouldn't leave Portugal until Madeleine is found“.

But from this time on there was a formal hunt done on the main investigator, Police Officer Dr. Goncalo Amaral, which is still continuing with the actual Libel case in Lisboa. Although it is not that uncommon that a principal investigator changes in a prominent case for some police internal reasons, the hunt done on Goncalo Amaral is indeed seemingly unprecedented in modern criminal history. There were four main stages in the hunt:


I. The dismissal of G.A. from the investigations (Oct. 2007)

It was just 22 days after the McCanns returned to England that Gonçalo Amaral was removed from the investigation by the Head of the Portuguese Police. He received a fax saying he was being returned to other duties ‘for the efficiency of the service’. Two hours before he was removed from office, Gordon Brown, British Prime Minister, was informed of this, thus arousing further suspicion that Mr Amaral’s removal was political. A few days before his removal, Mr Amaral had made reference in off-the-record remarks to a journalist that there had been active interference in his investigation by the British government.

2007, September – G.A. speaks off the record to a Portuguese journalist who reports Mr Amaral’s concerns that the British government has been interfering with his investigation.

Gonçalo Amaral, the police coordinator leading the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, was removed from his position on 02 October 2007. The decision was made after British newspapers printed several controversial statements, which were given 'off the record', on the Madeleine case. Amaral, who had headed the investigation since the early days and who was also the head of the Portimão Office of the Polícia Judiciária (PJ), was relieved of his duties by a direct order from Alípio Ribeiro, the national chief of the PJ. Questioned by journalists, Ribeiro said: “I ordered the end of Gonçalo Amaral’s service in Portimão and it seems to me that the reason why I gave that order is obvious.” Gonçalo Amaral had said that by following the couple's tips, the British investigators were continuously “forgetting the fact that they are prime suspects of their daughter’s death,” adding that the kidnapping scenario now being explored was nothing more than “another fact worked by the McCanns.”

2007, 3 October – On his 48th birthday, is told by his seniors that he is being removed from the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. After this, according to his wife, “It was a bad time…Even in his sleep he was going over in his mind what had happened to him and how his career was brought to a premature end. I heard him talking in the night ­because of nightmares…”.


II. G.A. is forced to resign from the police forces (April 2008)

In October 2008, a Portuguese lawyer, Marcos Correia brought charges against Dr. Amaral of having ordered and participated in beating a false confession out of Leonor Cipriano, a woman now serving a long jail term for murdering her own daughter (which she claimed had been abducted). Mr Amaral was found not guilty of these by a court in June 2009 but he was found guilty of (allegedly) ‘filing a false report’.

see at →The Joana Cipriano Case: Just 17 days after Madeleine is reported missing, the UK press seek to connect the two cases…

This came by arranging an old case to come up again:

2004, 12 September – Mother of Joana Cipriano, from Figueira, reports that her daughter is missing, possibly abducted 2004, October – G.A. becomes senior detective investigating the disappearance of Joana Cipriano. 2004, October – Arrests Leonor Cipriano and João Cipriano on suspicion of murdering Joana Cipriano. 2005 – Shortly before her trial, Leonor Cipriano claims that Gonçalo Amaral and four detectives beat a confession out of her and tortured her (those claims resurface in 2007). 2005, 11 November - Leonor Cipriano and João Cipriano found guilty by a Lisbon court of murdering Joana and sentenced to jail terms of 19 years 2 months and 20 years and 4 months respectively. The Supreme Court later reduced these to sentences of 16 years apiece.

2007 – Two years after the case was closed and brought successfull to trial, the Public Prosecutor’s Official in charge of the criminal investigation against the Ciprianos decides now to accuse Gonçalo Amaral and the other four detectives of the beating of Leonor Cipriano, but carefully concealed the fact that in a series of identity parades, Leonor Cipriano couldn’t identify any of her alleged aggressors. (see →McCannFiles)

2008 – G.A. resigns from the Portuguese Police force, forfeiting his police career and about one-third of his expected pension as a result.


III. G.A. is targeted by Libel Allegations (2009 - Oct. 2010)

2008, July – G.A. publishes an account of the investigation into Madeleine McCann’s disappearance, titled: A Verdade da Mentira (‘Maddie: The Truth About A Lie’).

2009, 9 September – The McCanns are successful in getting a court injunction banning his book: ‘The Truth About A Lie’ being sold or distributed until further order (see below).

2010, January – Gonçalo Amaral published a new book, A Mordaca Inglesa – ‘The English Gag’, a book claiming that the British government actively interfered with his investigation.

2010, October, 14th: Lisbon Court decides in favour of G.A.

Gonçalo Amaral's book can return to bookshops; Sol :„….In a decision that is dated Thursday last week, the Appeals Court judges have overturned the prohibition that had been decreed by the Lisbon Civil Courts, which forbade the distribution and sales of the book Maddie – The Truth of the Lie, as well as interviews and television reports about said book, both in Portugal and abroad.

The McCann couple alleges that Gonçalo Amaral's book, as well as the interviews that he gave about it, prompt “a serious and hardly reparable damage” to their family, especially to the twins, Sean and Amelie. They invoked damages to the protection of their private and family life and damages to their good name and their image rights. Yet, to the Appeals Court of Lisbon, “the contents of the book does not offend any of the applicants' fundamental rights. The exercise of its writing and publication is included in the constitutional rights that are ensured to everyone by the European Convention of Human Rights and by the Portuguese Republic's Constitution” (concerning freedom of expression and information and freedom of press and the media).

We recall that the investigation into Maddie's disappearance was coordinated by Gonçalo Amaral and ended up being archived, without any certainties concerning what happened to the three-year-old child. In the book Maddie – The Truth of the Lie, the former inspector sustains that Maddie died in the apartment where her parents were spending their holidays, in Praia da Luz, probably due to a domestic accident, on the 3rd of May, 2007 – and then the McCann couple, assisted by their friends who where on holidays with them, concealed the cadaver. And he alleges that he was forced to write the book in order to defend his reputation and to restore his professional honour, given the fact that at a certain point in time, he was removed from the investigation before its conclusion, through a decision from the Judiciária's national directory.

The judges at the Appeals Court in Lisbon compared the book with the archiving dispatch from the investigation into Maddie's disappearance: “We do not find any mention to any facts in the book that are not also in that dispatch. Where the author (Gonçalo Amaral) differs from the Prosecutors that wrote the dispatch is in the logical, police-work-oriented and investigative interpretation of said facts. In that sense, we stand before the exercise of the right of opinion, namely in a domain in which the author is an expert, as he worked as a criminal investigator for 26 years”.

“Concerning the applicants' (the McCann couple's) protection of private life, it is themselves who give multiple interviews and intervene in the media, offering them [the media] information that would otherwise hardly be published” and that “they voluntarily decided to limit their right to the intimacy of private life, in order to pursue higher values like the discovery of their daughter’s whereabouts”.

Nonetheless, in doing so, “they opened the doors for others to give their opinion about the matter, in accordance to what they were saying, but eventually also in contradiction with their directions, yet always within a legitimate and constitutionally consecrated right of opinion and freedom of expression of thought”. The decision was issued by the Appeals judges Francisco Bruto da Costa, Catarina Arelo Mando and António Valente.“


IV. A third trial is going on to stop G.A. (2012 - 2014)

This time the McCann's want to have „considerable compensation for the pain caused to the McCanns, following the publication of his book“:

See at →Compensation to the McCanns; Algarve Resident 07-Sep-2012: “The lawyer who is to act on behalf of Gerry and Kate McCann believes that retired policeman Gonçalo Amaral will be forced to pay considerable compensation for the pain caused to the McCanns, following the publication of his book. Madeleine McCann disappeared whilst on holiday in Praia da Luz five years ago and it is alleged that Madeleine's parents may be awarded up to €1.2 million, following the claims made in Amaral's book The Truth of the Lie, published in 2008, where he makes damning assertions about the McCanns and their involvement in the girl's disappearance.”

The trial is still ongoing and will hopefully be decided on in the near future.

See alsoGonçalo Amaral on the mistakes made by journalists when they state this is a libel trial, it isn't (in portuguese and english (scroll down)):

“Upon reading the news about the last trial session I became certain that the vast majority of journalists is unaware about what is being discussed there and they have not informed themselves properly.

Let us be clear. What is at issue is to establish whether:

  1. If the writing of my book “Maddie: A Verdade da Mentira” [Maddie: The Truth of the Lie] has constituted a licit or illicit act;
  2. If the authors of the claim have suffered damages and whether there are facts that prove them;
  3. If it is possible to establish a causality nexus between the book and the alleged damages.

This is what is in question. As to the legitimacy to write the book, I suggest to anyone who has doubts to read the Lisbon Appeals Court ruling within the scope of the temporary injunction that has preceded the legal action at stake. In fact, for the honourable Appellate Judges - as one can conclude by their decision - the lawfulness of the publication of the book is indisputable….”


Tony Bennet's letter for PM J. Socrates of Portugal (28 Sep. 2010)

See also →Letter to Portuguese Ambassador - 28 Sep 2010 asking for an enquiry into the treatment of Goncalo Amaral since he made the McCanns suspects.

Extract: ”…We would respectfully ask you to pass our request to the Prime Minister of Portugal, asking him to set up a public enquiry into the following matters that concern us and many other people in the United Kingdom:

1. The circumstances under which the Portuguese courts accepted for indictment the allegations of the murderess Leonor Cipriano, who together with her brother are now serving long prison sentences for murdering, respectively, their daughter and niece, Joana Cipriano. We are especially concerned that →Leonor Cipriano’s testimony about her alleged beating changed many times.

2. The circumstances under which Snr Amaral was removed from the enquiry into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann on 2 October 2007. The following aspects about this concern us:

(a.) whether, as alleged, the British government put pressure on the Portuguese authorities to have Snr Amaral sacked?

(b.) whether, as alleged by Snr Amaral, the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, was notified of Snr Amaral’s dismissal before he was?

(c.) why Snr Amaral was sacked so soon after he had made the McCanns arguidos on 7 September 2007 and so soon after a →damning report by Inspector Tavares de Almeida on 10 September 2007 who strongly suggested in his report that the evidence pointed towards Madeleine having died in Apartment 5A in the Ocean Club apartments in Praia da Luz and that the McCanns probably knew what had happened to her?

3. The role of the lawyer from Madeira, Marcos Aragao Correia, in pursuing Snr Amaral. Here, our concerns include the following: Marcos Aragao Correia, source: G.Amaral homepage (a.) The →bizarre stories he promoted regarding Madeleine McCann. When he first spoke of his interest in the case (Nov. 2007), he said that underworld [criminal] sources had told him that Madeleine had been kidnapped, then raped, then killed, and then her body thrown into a lake. Later, when he began the criminal case against Goncalo Amaral, taking over from another lawyer, he changed his story. He now said that in fact he had not heard that Madeleine had been abducted and killed. He admitted that he had lied. He said that he had been at his first-ever Spritualist Church meeting on Saturday 5 May 2007 in Madeira, after which he had had a vision of a big man strangling Madeleine. One is astonished that a practising lawyer could make such extraordinary comments

(b.) The fact that he admitted to being paid by the Spanish detective agency, Metodo 3, for his highly-publicised search of the Arade Dam. Metodo 3 were paid by the McCanns. It is important to establish how much Snr Correia was paid by the McCanns and whether the McCanns knew in advance that Snr Correia would be carrying out this search

(c.) His conduct of the proceedings against Snr Amaral, concluding with his famous comment ‘The target was hit’ when Snr Amaral was found guilty of filing a false report in May 2009.

4. The conduct of the criminal proceedings against Goncalo Amaral in the Portuguese courts. These proceedings began on 24 October 2008 and concluded on 22 May 2009 - eight months. There were five long adjournments. A criminal trial should not take this long and should not be adjourned so frequently. It can lead to injustice for the defendant. From the reports we have seen, the stories of Leonor Cipriano changed many times and there was evidence that the Director of Odemira Prison told her Prison Medical Officer to change her evidence. With defects like that in the evidence, there is an obvious suspicion that Snr Amaral was unjustly found guilty.

5. We are informed that Snr Amaral appealed against his conviction immediately after he was found guilty. It is now over 16 months and yet his appeal has not yet been heard. One reason given for this long delay was that the four members of the jury had not been paid, and we understand that an appeal against conviction may not be heard until the jury is paid. A highly respected judge once said: ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’. A delay of over a year in hearing an appeal is unjust. In most countries, an appeal against conviction is heard within a matter of weeks, or a few months at most. We suggest that a public enquiry in Portugal should investigate the reason for this serious delay. We also appeal to you to make representations to the judicial authorities in Portugal to hear Mr Amaral’s appeal without further delay.

6. We are concerned also about the serious delays in hearing the McCanns’ application for 1.2 million euros damages against Snr Amaral and his publishers. We are also concerned at Mr Amaral’s book being banned well before the final hearing of the case and at the seizure or sequestration of some of his assets in advance of the final hearing.

We are informed that the McCanns first issued a libel writ against Snr Amaral and his publishers, Guerra e Paz, in the Lisbon High Court in July 2009. It must be noted that by this time Snr Amaral’s book had been on sale for a whole year, and reputedly sold 200,000 copies in Portugal and a similar number in other European countries. A major question mark is why the McCanns waited a year before trying to injunct the book if it was considered to be so libellous.

The service of the writ was swiftly followed by an interlocutory hearing, just a few weeks later, when Mr Amaral’s book was banned and certain financial orders were made against him. In January and February there were four days of hearings when Mr Amaral failed to persuade the judges to allow his book to be sold pending the final hearing of the libel trial.

It is now September 2010, nearly 15 months after the libel writ was served, and even now no date has been set for the final libel hearing. A public enquiry should establish the reasons for this. Again we would urge you to intervene by asking the Portuguese judiciary to bring this case on for trial without further delay.

We have since learnt that an order has been made sequestrating Mr Amaral’s home. It seems to us here in Britain that all the decisions are being made adverse to Mr Amaral before the trial takes place. His book has been banned for a year. The books have been seized. Some of his assets have been seized. And his home has been sequestered. All of this has taken place before the trial. This does not seem like a fair way of conducting civil proceedings. We would also point out that there is a great demand for Mr Amaral’s book, not least here in Britain where hundreds of thousands of people would surely buy it if it ever went on sale here. We cannot undestand the draconian action taken against Mr Amaral.

7. We also understand that Snr Marcos Aragao Correia has begun other criminal proceedings against Snr Amaral, based, we are told, on the evidence of Leandro da Silva, the partner of Leonor Cipriano. Once again we question whether there is a prima facie case against Mr Amaral. This is now the second set of criminal proceedings he has faced regarding the murder of Joana Cipriano, a matter which he successfully prosecuted in the Portuguese courts on behalf of the Portuguese people. That taken together with the banning of his very popular book and the delay in the libel case seems an intolerable burden for a detective who did his best to probe the disappearance of a three-year-old British girl, Madeleine McCann.“


Latest News

09 Jan.2014 Dagbladet (Norway), It's hard to accept that I have to live like this just because I did my job: “The man who led the investigation of Maddie's disappearance is fighting a bitter feud with Madeleine's parents…”.

21 March 2014The Portugal Resident, By N. Donn, “Madeleine latest: raising yet more questions”

“As news of the Met’s latest Madeleine theories sweeps the world, here in Portugal some very different revelations - equally chilling in their content - received almost zero publicity. An interview with ‘infamous’ Madeleine cop, Gonçalo Amaral, described how vital leads in the case appear to have been deliberately dropped. Far from expounding on the possibility of a sexual predator stalking the bedrooms of young white girls on holiday from England, Amaral talked of high-level political involvement which left DNA samples untested and key witnesses overlooked. It could have been dismissed as another conspiracy-theorists’ stunt apart from the fact that the programme was presented by well-known news anchor Júlio Magalhães - former director of information at TVI and current director-general of Porto Canal - with questions fielded by respected political thinker and one-time PSD leader and mayor, →Luís Filipe Menezes. Menezes opened the interview saying that after almost seven years of media frenzy, perhaps it was time to ask whether the PJ was qualified to investigate a crime of this complexity. “Doubts arise as to whether our police, our State, is protected against national and international political influences that interfere in the day-to-day professional thinking of police and other criminal investigators,” he said.

His invitation to Gonçalo Amaral - awaiting the result of a trial for defamation brought by Kate and Gerry McCann, who allege his theories that Madeleine is dead hampered the search for their daughter - was a chance to see whether the former investigator was “a Portuguese version of Dirty Harry, or a politically-correct policeman”. Amaral’s answers came thick and fast. The day he left the Madeleine investigation was “the day Gordon Brown (then British prime minister) spoke with José Socrátes (then Portuguese prime minister).” At the time, Amaral told Menezes, Portuguese police were keen to interview the Irish family who had identified Gerry McCann as the man they thought they had seen carrying a child down towards the beach on the night Madeleine went missing. This plan was quickly scuppered. Amaral’s substitute on the case “was told that it was not relevant to bring the Irish (family) to Portugal,” he told Menezes. “And that was that. The Irish family was never heard.”

As to DNA evidence that was discovered in the McCanns’ rental car, Amaral was adamant that this could have been more thoroughly tested. While initial findings on blood were deemed inconclusive, Amaral explains hair samples were simply not followed up as British lab technicians claimed it was impossible to test hair samples without roots. “It is possible, and even at the time it was possible!” Amaral insisted. “These hair samples are in Portugal! They were returned in Portugal and they are in the files. It’s simple! All the public ministry has to do is take the hairs and send them to a European laboratory, or anywhere where these kinds of exams are done without roots.” Menezes, who had described himself at the outset as “never neutral in these matters” but seeking to be impartial, quizzed Amaral on one of the myriad “strange twists” in the early stages of the case. Referring to the hiring of Clarence Mitchell as the McCanns’ press 'face', he said: “How is it comprehensible that the spokesman for the English Prime Minister had left, in 24 hours, Tony Blair to be the McCann family’s spokesman? Isn’t that strange?”.

“Of course,” replies Amaral. It is another mystery within the mystery, and maybe if we can understand this little mystery we will be able to understand what lies behind, not the disappearance, not the death of the child, but what lies behind the protection… Why the protection…”. Full of questions and inconvenient allegations, it was an interview that aimed to illustrated the depth and scope of the “complexities” Luís Filipe Menezes had suggested might just be too much for the PJ - or indeed any police force. “Only when there is the political will on both sides” will the case be resolved, said Amaral, concluding, “when investigations are politically correct, they lead nowhere.”

Meantime in UK, Operation Grange has revealed that it is currently receiving hundreds of calls in response to the latest announcement that a bare-chested sexual predator abused five little white girls - all older than Madeleine – while they were sleeping in their beds in holiday homes along the Algarve between 2004 and 2006. The Met described 12 separate crimes leading up to 2010, only four of them involving the sexual abuse of girls aged 7-10. Whether the other eight crimes involved another type of sexual abuse has not been divulged. According to Correio da Manhã newspaper, it was the evidence of this predator that led Portuguese investigators to ask the public ministry to reopen the Madeleine case in October last year. Characteristically tight-lipped about the course of their investigations, the PJ nonetheless have been known to feed information to the Portuguese and foreign press. On Wednesday (March 19), a spokesman agreed with the Met’s Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood that the new suspect is considered to be a key to resolving the long-running mystery, just over a month away from reaching its seventh anniversary.

27 July 2014Daily Mail, Former Portuguese policeman being sued by Madeleine McCann's parents for claiming they faked her abduction is planning to sue them BACK

  • Projecto Justica Goncalo Amaral (02.Feb. 2015) A Message from Goncalo Amaral
  • Algarve Newswatch (05.Feb. 2015) McCanns vs Amaral verdict nearing
  • The Guardian (28. Apr. 2015) Madeleine McCann's parents win libel damages in trial of police chief
  • Sky News (28. Apr. 2015) McCanns Had Asked For £1m Compensation
  • Portuguese American Journal (30. Apr. 2015) Detective Amaral to appeal McCann's libel action
  • Express (3. May 2015) Maddie libel detective ruined: Retirement retreat seized to cover McCann payout
  • Express (4. May 2015) Online trolls pay Madeleine McCann libel detective’s legal bills on eight year anniversary
  • Nova Gente (15. May 2015) Interview With Gonçalo Amaral
  • Daily Star, (18. May 2015) , Maddie cop slams McCanns over 'gag': Ex-police boss to fight court ruling

See also

  1. Petition at →Change.org
  2. Daily Mail (27 July 2014), Former Portuguese policeman being sued by Madeleine McCann's parents for claiming they faked her abduction is planning to sue them BACK
  3. Projecto Justica Goncalo Amaral (02.Feb. 2015) A Message from Goncalo Amaral
  4. Algarve Newswatch (05.Feb. 2015) McCanns vs Amaral verdict nearing
  5. The Guardian (28. Apr. 2015) Madeleine McCann's parents win libel damages in trial of police chief
  6. Nova Gente (15. May 2015) Interview With Gonçalo Amaral
  7. GoFundMe Legal defence for Dr. Goncalo Amaral

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